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England Woodland Creation Offer
With a shift in regime from the Basic Payment Scheme to one targeting agri-environmental objectives, more farmers are looking to forestry as a way to generate income.
The England Woodland Creation Offer (EWCO) is a scheme available across England. This scheme is available to owner-occupiers, tenants, landlords, and licensors that have full management control of the land in the application. Furthermore, joint applications, multiple land managers, and applications on common land and areas of shared grazing are eligible. If you do not have full management control of the land then you will need consent from those that do. The aim of this scheme is to encourage landowners such as farmers, land managers, etc to plant trees and develop woodlands. The scheme supports areas as small as one hectare and applicants could receive over £10,000 per hectare to support the woodland creation.
The land is eligible for the scheme if it is:
- in England
- within the full management control of the applicant (or, where applicable, any counter-signatories)
- not already classified as woodland
- not subject to any existing legal requirement or obligation to create woodland
- not subject to a dispute between landlords and tenants
- not currently within an existing grant agreement that has more than five months left to run at the time the EWCO application is submitted (if the land or part of it is in an Environmental Stewardship agreement it may be possible to transfer the land into EWCO as long as certain conditions are met)
EWCO is a criteria-based competitive scheme. Offers of Agreements will be made to applicants with woodland creation proposals whose scores meet or exceed the threshold score. The threshold score is currently ten points. We recommend reading the criteria to make sure that you can maximise the number of points you could receive. The more points you have the more lucrative your offer of Agreement will be.
Each area has a woodland creation officer, their details can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/government/organisations/forestry-commission/about/access-and-opening#Woodland-Creation-Officer
Dan Wood Partner at Hawsons commented:
We are seeing an increase in farms looking to agroforestry. One of the key benefits of the EWCO is that DEFRA have indicated that farmers and landowners will be able to transfer into future environmental land management schemes at agreed points without having to repay their current funding. The potential to sell carbon credits generated by woodland creation may be a further source of income, made even more attractive by the fact that it is currently tax-free.
That said, this scheme may not be for everyone, it does require long-term planning and a commitment to take a significant area of land out of production. There does remain uncertainty about the longer-term future of the subsidy regime and we expect that many will wait until the extent of the schemes becomes clearer before making a significant investment.
If you would like to read through the application process, please visit the government website here: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/england-woodland-creation-offer
How can we help?
Hawsons has a dedicated team of specialist agriculture accountants in Sheffield, Doncaster, and Northampton. We know that farming isn’t just a business; it’s a way of life.
The rural and agriculture sector is a specialist sector, with unique practices and conventions, and we act for a significant number of arable farms and assist farming families in many matters specific to the sector including tax and will planning and succession planning.
We have been able to assist our farming clients in adding value to their businesses including advising on the financial and taxation consequences of property development, green technologies and capital allowance planning. In particular, we can assist in the area of capital taxes planning which is a significant issue for most farmers following the increase in land values and the availability of development opportunities.
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