2020-21 saw a 33% increase in the volume of Woodland Creation applications compared to 2019-2020.
Scottish Forestry (SF) approved applications at a record rate and were predicted to hit the 13,000ha target for new woodlands.
There were delays in processing applications towards the end of the 2020-21 financial year due to the high volume of work, Covid-19 working arrangements, and Brexit changes. SF are increasing their capacity through recruitment and IT support systems.
What does Brexit mean for FGS?
Future applications: FGS remains open to applications in its present form until at least 2024. SF will continue to evolve, improve and simplify FGS during this period.
Existing contracts: whether your contract falls under UK or EU legislation will depend on when it was agreed. This is the date when the status of the application was recorded by SF in the Rural Payments and Services (RP&S) portal as ‘Contract Agreed’.
Contracts agreed before 31 December 2020 will have a legal basis of the current EU rules for the lifetime of that contract.
Contracts agreed from 1 January 2021 will be based upon new legislation following our exit from the EU.
High demand for Woodland Creation grants continues in 2021-22
If you are thinking of applying for a Woodland Creation grant in this financial year, the sooner the better. In February, SF already had agreed contracts for more than half the year’s planting target of 13,500ha.
At that time there were also a further 7,500ha worth of applications being assessed. It’s best to discuss and resolve any potential issues with Scottish Forestry before submitting your application. This helps SF to process your application smoothly and efficiently.
There is currently still good availability across all Woodland Creation categories for the £54.4m budget. The total budget for all Forestry Grant Scheme funding categories in 2021-22 is £63.3m.
Availability is becoming limited for Woodland Improvement Grant (WIG) in the following categories: Restructuring Regeneration; Habitats and Species; Low Impact Silvicultural Systems (LISS). There is good availability for all other FGS categories for 2021-22 and 2022-23.
Harvesting & Processing Grant
The Harvesting & Processing grant is provided to promote economic development in rural areas by supporting new and existing forestry businesses. Grant support is based on actual costs with a maximum contribution of 40%.
The balance of funding must come from private funds. In any single application, the maximum grant award may be up to £50,000, applicants may make more than one application per claim year, and multiple applications for individual pieces of equipment relating to a single project are allowed.
There have been some changes to the Harvesting & Processing option in 2021. There is increased support under Aim 2 – Nursery, Seed Supply and Ground Preparation Equipment. This is a joint initiative between the Scottish, Welsh and UK Governments to help improve the capacity of nurseries to supply growing demand for forest trees.
The Harvesting and Processing option budget has been increased up to the value of £2m in 2021. A new application round will be introduced for projects that can be completed by 31st March 2022, and applications are invited for submission between 1st May and 30th June 2021. Contracts for work will be available for successful applicants by August 2021. Applications under Aim 1 – Harvesting and Processing and Aim 3 – Adapting and Recovering From Covid-19 are also invited during the May/June submission window.
Any costs incurred prior to returning a signed contract will be ineligible for funding support. Claims for completed work must be submitted, along with any supporting evidence, by 31st March 2022.
This article has been published in the Spring 2021 edition of the Farm Woodland News. Download a copy to access all articles. Subscribe to receive newly published editions via email by using the form here.
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