The Rural Payments Agency (RPA) has confirmed today that eligible Countryside Stewardship (CS) and Environmental Stewardship (ES) customers have been paid for their overdue historic claims.
Last month, the government announced that eligible CS and ES customers with unpaid annual revenue claims, some dating back to 2015, would receive a payment for the amount they are owed by the end of July.
This promise has now been met, with around 15,000 eligible customers now being paid a total of £148 million for the critical work they do for our natural environment.
Former Defra secretary Michael Gove caused a stir at the NFU conference in February, when after taking a question from a farmer still waiting payments dating back years, he gave out an email address for his assistant, prompting dozens of others to contact the department directly asking for their money.
RPA Chief Executive Paul Caldwell said: “I am pleased to announce today that, as promised, eligible historic revenue claims for agri-environment schemes have now been paid.
“We are continuing to make improvements to the processing of applications, agreements and claims, and are determined to build confidence in these schemes ahead of the Environmental Land Management scheme being rolled out. I would like to thank everyone for their continued efforts on driving up the performance of these schemes.”
If any adjustments need to be made to their final revenue payment, once processing work has been completed, the RPA will write to those customers informing them of what action will need to be taken.
Through CS and ES agreements, farmers and land managers are provided with an additional income stream for delivering environmental benefits, including providing habitats for wildlife and reducing the risk of flooding by improving farm infrastructure.
Those signed up to agri-environment schemes this year will be well-placed to participate in the new Environmental Land Management scheme when it replaces CS and ES once we leave the EU.