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eAlert: 22 June 2022 – GOV.UK

1. England Woodland Creation Offer – update

As mentioned in last week’s eAlert 16 June, from today there are four changes which have come into effect for the England Woodland Creation Offer (EWCO). As there’s a lot of information below, we’ve split this into three sections:

  1. A reminder of what has changed from today – with links below to where you can find out more information.
  2. Future changes to Additional Contributions that we want to tell you about now but will be made later this year.
  3. And finally, we’ve included some other information for EWCO that you may find useful.

Updates to the England Woodland Creation Offer – from 22 June 2022

  • maximizing the benefits of the Nature Recovery Additional Contribution: increasing species and structural diversity in new native woodlands
  • implementing a new Biosecure Procurement Requirement Pilot: preventing the introduction and spread of non-native pests and diseases
  • increasing flexibility to apply for the Public Access Additional Contribution: allowing those outside of the targeting area to apply if conditions are met
  • helping plant more woodland along water courses eligible for the Riparian Buffer Additional Contribution: additional standard costs for capital works so livestock can access drinking water where tree planting and fencing block access to water

1.1 What have you changed from today?

Maximizing benefits for nature recovery in the England Woodland Creation Offer.

From today (22 June) the design requirements for eligibility for the Nature Recovery Additional Contribution will change. This will apply to both the lower and higher rates for native woodland creation but, not the creation of woodland for red squirrel. If you are working on an EWCO application which includes the ‘Nature Recovery Additional Contribution’, please see section 4.3.4 of the updated EWCO Grant Manual so you can ensure that any applications submitted from today are in line with the new guidance. If you would like to discuss your application, please send inquiries to EWCOenquiries@forestrycommission.gov.uk or contact your local Woodland Officer

Implementing the Biosecure Procurement Requirement Pilot

The pilot of our new biosecure procurement requirement for suppliers of plants and trees will apply from today (22 June). The requirement means that applicants eligible for funding under the Future Farming Tree Health Pilot, will need to source their trees from suppliers who are either certified under the Plant Healthy Certification Scheme (or have applied to become certified) or who have passed a Ready to Plant assessment provided by Fera Science Ltd. Introducing this requirement will help to combat the threats posed by pests and diseases, as well as strengthening our biosecurity and serving our long-term vision for our trees and woodlands.
If you are applying for EWCO please see section 2.1 in the updated EWCO Grant Manual so you can ensure your application is in line with the new requirement.

If you are applying for the Tree Health Pilot please visit the Tree Health Pilot guidance page so you can ensure your application is in line with the new requirement.

If you are a tree supplier for either of these grants please visit: Plant Healthy Certification Scheme or Ready to Plant assessment provided by Fera Science Ltd.

Please send EWCO inquiries to EWCOenquiries@forestrycommission.gov.uk Please send Tree Health Pilot queries to thpilotenquiries@forestrycommission.gov.uk

Increasing flexibility to apply for the Public Access Additional Contribution

From today (22 June) we will offer greater flexibility if you want to access this Additional Contribution. You will be able to apply for the Additional Contribution outside of the targeting layer where certain criteria are met.

If you are working on an EWCO application and you are outside the ‘EWCO – NfC Social’ targeting layer, you can set out why you feel your proposal should be eligible for the Public Access Additional Contribution by filling in a EWCO Public Access Non-spatial Eligibility Form. You can find the form on the EWCO application form page.
If you have submitted an application and don’t yet have your agreement but you’d like to take advantage of this new additional flexibility, please complete the form above and send to: EWCO@forestrycommission.gov.uk

Supporting livestock to access drinking water along water courses – for the Riparian Buffer Additional Contribution

From today (22 June) we are introducing new standard costs to EWCO to encourage the creation of more woodland along water courses. These additional standard costs will support capital works to ensure livestock can access drinking water where planting and associated fencing prevent animals from reaching their current water supply. These standard costs can only be applied for in conjunction with the Riparian Buffer Additional Contribution.

If you are working on an EWCO application which includes the ‘Riparian Buffer Additional Contribution’, please see page 6 of the EWCO Grant Manual Appendix 1 Standards Cost Items for details on eligibility for the new standard costs.

If you have submitted an application and don’t yet have your agreement but you would like to discuss how these changes may affect your current application, please send inquiries to ,EWCOenquiries@forestrycommission.gov.uk. or speak to your local Woodland Officer.

1.2 Future changes that we want to tell you about now that will be made to Additional Contributions later this year:

In September 2022 (exact date tbc) the spatial targeting for the following Additional Contributions will be revised to account for improved information from the Environment Agency:

Flood Risk Additional Contribution – this will shift the focus of the payments to priority catchments for natural flood risk management, expanding the eligible land in these catchments further up the catchments to include areas of the flood plain at risk to surface water flooding.

Riparian Buffers (Keeping Rivers Cool) Additional Contribution – this change will help to better target these payments to account for improved data on water courses that lack shade.

If you are submitting an EWCO application which contains either of these two Additional Contributions, there is no need to wait until September to submit your application. This is because:

  • applications received before the changes are made will retain the eligibility that applied at the time we received your application

  • applications will also be able to take advantage of any change which makes them newly eligible for these Additional Contributions (subject to them meeting the associated design requirements)

1.3 Other information for EWCO that you may find useful

Compatibility of EWCO payments:

Land managers frequently ask whether they can access other sources of ecosystem services payments alongside EWCO payments for delivering environmental outcomes from woodland creation. In response to this, we’ve just published a new Operations Note to clarify the rules on the compatibility of EWCO payments, and payments for ecosystem services from other sources. This consists of five rules that will hopefully answer queries you may have about blending finance. View the new operations note on GOV.UK: Rules for combining England Woodland Creation Offer payments for woodland creation with other sources of payment for ecosystems services: operations note 62.

If you do have any further queries, please send inquiries to EWCOenquiries@forestrycommission.gov.uk or speak to your local Woodland Officer.

Evidence to Support England Woodland Creation Offer Claims

We mentioned in a previous eAlert 27 May that we have reviewed the evidence required to support EWCO claims for capital items. As a reminder, while you must submit evidence of expenditure to support claims for infrastructure you no longer need to submit evidence of expenditure to support claims for Standard Cost Capital Items. However, you must provide this if we ask you to. To support this, you must retain any evidence of expenditure until your obligations under the EWCO Agreement expire. If you do not have evidence of expenditure, such as receipted invoices, you will need to prepare and, if we request it, provide a signed declaration explaining why this is not available – please complete the EWCO Claim Evidence Declaration Form available on the EWCO claim form page.

To help ease the challenges around the procurement of materials, if a grant agreement is ultimately put in place, we will now accept claims for capital items purchased prior to the Agreement Commencement Date. This allowance does not extend to any work being carried out onsite, including the planting of any pre-ordered trees: we will reject claims and we will not pay for any work carried out (in part or full) before the Agreement Commencement Date. While applicants are encouraged to plan for grant activities, any final ordering and payment of materials prior to the Agreement Commencement Date is done so at the sole risk of the applicant and the Forestry Commission will not accept liability for these items.

Make sure your payment details are up to date

If you are ready to submit an England Woodland Creation Offer (EWCO) claim, please ensure your bank details are up to date with the Rural Payments Agency. This will prevent your payment being held or delayed. You can contact the Rural Payments Agency helpline on 03000 200 301 to enter your details in the system. Please note there will be an automatic 10 day hold whilst any new account details are verified.

Would like to find out more about these changes? Join our webinar!

Updates to the England Woodland Creation Offer

Hear about the updates introduced on 22 June for EWCO. We will guide you through the updates in detail and give you time to ask questions.

Wednesday, 6 July 2022, 10:00 a.m. till 12:00 p.m. Book via Eventbrite.

Sign up now to the webinar

two. Inspiring Woodland Creation: Woods and Water webinar

Watch our webinar to find out the benefits trees can have on the issues affecting water! We recently ran a webinar focusing on woods and water, if you were unable to attend, the recording is now available on our YouTube channel for you to watch!

Trees have far-reaching benefits for land, the environment, and water. Even planting small woods in the right place can help reduce flooding and the effects of drought, improve water quality, reduce soil erosion, and help to keep rivers and aquatic life cool.

During the webinar we covered the current issues affecting water and the benefits that trees can provide to help combat these issues.

Watch the video

3. Reminders of grant deadlines:

Tree Production Capital Grant

The deadline for applications is 23.55 on 30 June 2022. Find our more and get an application form on our Tree Production Capital Grant GOV.UK page.

Woodland Creation Accelerator Fund

The deadline for applications is 5:00pm on 8 July 2022. Find our more and get an application form on our Woodland Creation Accelerator Fund GOV.UK page.

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