The introduction of new fencing guidelines for Countryside Stewardship (CS) have been described as a “victory for common sense” by English farmers.

Metal fencing will be an approved option following an intense lobbying effort by fencing supplier McVeigh Parker.

Until now, CS provisions for fencing and netting have insisted on the use of softwood timber “that is fully peeled, coated with wood preservative and pressure treated, or treated with an approved preservative” only.

For this, farmers could claim between £4.00 and £4.90 per metre, subject to several other conditions, such as post diameter and fence height.

Since the banning of CCA (Copper Chrome Arsenic) timber treatment in 2006, farmers and landowners have complained about the longevity of timber fence posts, often describing how fence posts become rotten after as little as five years.

Fencing contractors, too, have expressed their own frustration.

A survey last year by the Association of Fencing Industries found that over 90 per cent of the 200-plus contractors taking part had experienced post 'failures' since 2012, despite claims from manufacturers that they should last for at least 15 years.

McVeigh Parker enlisted the support of organisations including NFU, FWAG, CLA and RSPB to show Defra that farmers are looking for longer-lasting and better value options.

Following extensive discussions with Defra, Secretary of State George Eustice said: “We have noted the matters raised by stakeholders and I have agreed that people can choose metal fencing over wooden fencing in the CS scheme should they wish.”

McVeigh Parker spokesman, Ed Wilkinson, described the news as “a great result for farmers and landowners, for contractors and for the taxpayer.”

Archie Stover, who farms 200 acres in Dorset, said: “I am so pleased that the rules for funding are going to be changed.

"We have been really impressed with metal fencing for a long time but not being able to get grant funding has been a real frustration.

"This is great news and a victory for common sense."

Further details of the new guidelines are expected in early February.