The Countryside Stewardship (England) Regulations 2020

Publication Date:January 01, 2020
 
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2020No. 41

AGRICULTURE, ENGLAND

COUNTRYSIDE, ENGLAND

The Countryside Stewardship (England) Regulations 2020

Made20thJanuary2020

Laid before Parliament21stJanuary2020

Coming into force11thFebruary2020

The Secretary of State, in exercise of the powers conferred by section 98 of the Environment Act 1995( 1), with the consent of the Treasury, makes the following Regulations:

Citation, commencement, extent and application

1.—(1) These Regulations may be cited as the Countryside Stewardship (England) Regulations 2020 and come into force on 11th February 2020.

(2) These Regulations extend to England and Wales but apply to England only.

Interpretation

2.—(1) In these Regulations—

“agreement holder” means a CS agreement holder or a facilitation agreement holder; “agreement year” means a period of 12 months commencing with the date of, or any anniversary of the date of, the coming into effect of a countryside stewardship agreement or a facilitation agreement;

“carry out”, in relation to an obligation under a countryside stewardship agreement or a facilitation agreement, includes ensuring that the obligation is carried out;

“countryside stewardship agreement” means an agreement under regulation 3;

“CS agreement holder” means a person who enters into a countryside stewardship agreement with the Secretary of State;

“eligible person” means—

(a) any person who has management control of the eligible land and sufficient control of the activities on that land to be able to meet the conditions of the countryside stewardship agreement for either—

(i) the duration of the agreement and any ongoing maintenance requirements set out in the agreement, or

(ii) part of the duration of the agreement and any ongoing maintenance requirements set out in the agreement, if the person to whom the management control will revert for the remaining part has co-signed the application for a grant under regulation 3, and

(b) whose business is, in the opinion of the Secretary of State, viable;

“facilitation agreement” means an agreement under regulation 6;

“facilitation agreement holder” means a person who enters into a facilitation agreement with the Secretary of State;

“facilitation services” means professional services to promote cooperation between members of a group;

“officer”, in relation to a body corporate, means a director, manager, secretary or other similar officer of the body or any person purporting to act in such capacity;

“officer” or “member”, in relation to an unincorporated association, includes any person purporting to act in such capacity;

“partner” includes any person purporting to act in such capacity;

“partnership” does not include a limited liability partnership;

“permanent crops” means non-rotational crops other than permanent grassland that occupy the land for five years or more and yield repeated harvests;

“permanent grassland” means land used to grow grasses or other herbaceous forage naturally or through cultivation and that has not been included in the crop rotation for five years or more;

“Priority Habitat” means a type of habitat identified as being of principle importance in England in accordance with section 41 of the Natural Environment and Rural Communities Act 2006( 2);

“Priority Species” means those living organisms identified as being of principle importance in England in accordance with section 41 of the Natural Environment and Rural Communities Act 2006;

“qualified person” means either—

(a) a person from the farming, forestry or other land management sector, or

(b) a person with environmental land management experience and skills in providing facilitation services;

“unincorporated association” does not include a partnership.

(2) In these Regulations “eligible land” means any land that is registered on the Rural Payments Service held by the Secretary of State, and which is—

(a) an area of agricultural land, including associated farm buildings, that is taken up by arable land, permanent grassland or permanent crops;

(b) a protected site, including—

(i) Sites of Special Scientific Interest, as defined in section 52(1) of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981( 3);

(ii) Special Area of Conservation (“SAC”), as designated in regulation 13 of the Conservation of Habitats and Species Regulations 2017( 4), and proposed SACs;

(iii) Special Protection Areas (“SPA”), as classified in regulation 15 of the Conservation of Habitats and Species Regulations 2017( 5), and proposed SPAs;

(iv) Ramsar Sites, which means wetlands designated under the Ramsar Convention as being of international importance, as described in section 37A of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981( 6);

(c) a terrestrial Priority Habitat;

(d) land that supports a Priority Species;

(e) an area of woodland that—

(i) is at least 0.5 hectares,

(ii) has an average width of at least 20 metres, and

(iii) contains groups or lines of trees that are, or will reach, at least 5 metres in height and with a crown cover of more than 20% of the ground area;

(3) But “eligible land” does not include land—

(a) in relation to which any of the activities for which grant is sought—

(i) is funded by—

(aa) the European Union,

(bb) Parliament, or

(cc) a body exercising public functions within the United Kingdom; or

(ii) is required under any other form of legally binding obligation;

(b) on which solar panels generate electricity other than for a use connected to those activities.

Power to make grants under countryside stewardship agreements

3.—(1) The Secretary of State may make a grant to any eligible person who undertakes to carry out, in relation to eligible land, at least one of the activities listed in column 1 of Part 2 or 3 of the Schedule, those activities being, in the opinion of the Secretary of State, conducive to one of the purposes set out in section 98(1) of the Environment Act 1995.

(2) The eligible person must make an application for a grant in accordance with such requirements as the Secretary of State may specify (see regulation 8).

(3) A grant under paragraph (1) is subject to the following conditions—

(a) that the eligible person enters into a countryside stewardship agreement with the Secretary of State; and

(b) that the CS agreement holder complies with—

(i) the requirements set out in regulation 9, and

(ii) the terms and conditions set out in their countryside stewardship agreement.

(4) The countryside stewardship agreement must specify—

(a) the duration of the agreement,

(b) the activity or activities that the CS agreement holder must carry out,

(c) the terms and conditions which the CS agreement holder must comply with, and

(d) the payments to be made to the CS agreement holder by the Secretary of State.

(5) If, in the opinion of the Secretary of State, it is consistent with the purposes referred to in paragraph (1), the Secretary of State may modify the conditions of a countryside stewardship agreement by—

(a) agreement with the CS agreement holder, or

(b) serving notice on the CS agreement holder.

Rates of payment for countryside stewardship agreements

4. The rate of payment for each activity must not exceed that specified in column 3 of Parts 2 or 3 of the Schedule.

Notification of change in management control

5.—(1) The CS agreement holder is released from the countryside stewardship agreement if—

(a) the CS agreement holder transfers management control of all or part of the land which is the subject of that agreement to another person (“the transferee”),

(b) the transferee is an eligible person,

(c) the transferee notifies the Secretary of State of the transfer within 90 days beginning with the day after the date of the transfer,

(d) the transferee gives an undertaking to the Secretary of State to assume the obligations under that agreement in place of the CS agreement holder, and

(e) the Secretary of State has accepted that undertaking.

(2) Paragraph (1) does not release the CS agreement holder in respect of any breach or other matter occurring before the acceptance by the Secretary of State of the transferee's undertaking.

(3) Paragraph (1) does not apply in relation to a countryside stewardship agreement to carry out any activity or matter specified in Part 3 of the Schedule.

Power to make grants under facilitation agreements

6.—(1) The Secretary of State may make a grant to a qualified person who undertakes to provide facilitation services to help a group of land managers carry out, in relation to eligible land, any activity which, in the opinion of the Secretary of State, is conducive to one of the purposes set out in section 98(1) of the Environment Act 1995.

(2) A qualified person must make an application for a grant in accordance with such requirements as the Secretary of State may specify (see regulation 8).

(3) A grant under paragraph (1) is subject to the following conditions—

(a) that the qualified person enters into a facilitation agreement with the Secretary of State;

(b) that the facilitation agreement holder complies with—

(i) the requirements set out in regulation 9, and

(ii) the terms and conditions set out in their facilitation agreement.

(4) The facilitation agreement must specify—

(a) the duration of the agreement,

(b) the services that the facilitation agreement holder must provide,

(c) the terms and conditions which the facilitation agreement holder must comply with, and

(d) the payments to be made to the facilitation agreement holder by the Secretary of State.

(5) If, in the opinion of the Secretary of State, it is consistent with the purposes referred to in paragraph (1), the Secretary of State may modify the conditions of a facilitation agreement by—

(a) agreement with the facilitation agreement holder, or

(b) serving notice on the facilitation agreement holder.

Amount of grant for facilitation agreement

7. The Secretary of State must determine the amount of grant payable under regulation 6 as follows—

(a) up to a maximum of £20,000 for the costs of delivering the facilitation services per agreement...

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