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H&H Land and Property have welcomed the announcement by Natural England that the Hedgerows & Boundaries Grant (HBG) is to be re-launched.

In 2016, farmers or landowners with an Entry Level Stewardship agreement or Woodland Grant Scheme were banned from applying for the grant.

But now, following a change in eligibility rules, more farmers will be entitled to the grant, even if it is covered by their existing agreement.

The 2017 application window is now open and runs from February 1 to April 28, and farmers can apply for a one-off grant of up to £5,000 towards the restoration of hedgerows, dry stone walls, stone-face banks or earth banks.

The application process for the Countryside Stewardship Scheme is competitive and there is a limited budget available, so applications will be scored and only those with the highest scores will secure the grant.

Applicants will be more successful if the farming business has previously had an Environmental Stewardship Agreement, the application is to restore hedges or walls, or if the holding is linked to a group receiving Facilitation Fund Payments.

The standard payment rates that can be applied are £9.40 per metre for hedge laying, £4.00 per metre for coppicing of hedgerows, £9.50 per metre for hedgerow restoration, £31.00 per metre for stone-faced bank repair, £25.00 per metre for stone wall restoration, and £3.60 per metre for stone wall top wiring supplement.

Dave Morley, head of conservation and environment at H&H Land and Property, said: "This year, successful applicants will be made a grant offer in June 2017 and, if accepted, the agreement will start on July 1.

"The applicant has until December 31 2018 to complete the work and submit their claim.

"A competitive application will be critical in securing a grant; it is therefore strongly recommended that potential applicants seek professional advice to maximise their chances of success."

Anyone who may want more information can contact David Morley on 01228 406260.