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On Friday 21 July the Minister for Rural Affairs Lesley Griffiths MS announced a new interim scheme to support the protection of habitats on agricultural land, which will be introduced on 1 January 2024.
Welsh Government has said that the new interim scheme (Habitat Wales Scheme) will provide alternative support to all eligible farmers, including Glastir Advanced, Commons and Organic farmers when their contracts end on 31 December 2023.
The current Glastir scheme ends on 31 December 2023 with the Sustainable Farming Scheme introduced in 2025.
- Protect habitat land previously under management in 2023 up to the full introduction of the Sustainable Farming Scheme (SFS) in 2025.
- Introduce additional habitat land, not currently under paid management, into sustainable land management prior to start of SFS.
- Maintain environmental support for common land.
The scheme will be open to all eligible farmers and Grazing Associations.
- Land currently under a habitat option within a Glastir Advanced contract (including Glastir Commons).
- Habitat land (excluding designated sites), not currently under management in 2023, as identified by published maps on DataMapWales.
- Land managed as habitat. (This land has potential to become habitat land following management)
Management payments for designated sites within existing Glastir contracts will be maintained, however, designated sites, not currently under a Glastir contract will not be eligible for payment under the Habitat Wales scheme.
The application window opened on Friday 29 September 2023, with 12 month contracts offered, commencing 1 January 2024.
Applications are submitted via the RPW online account and are farmer led, i.e. there will be no contract managers visiting farms.
Habitat areas are pre-populated onto the on-line application form.
The contract is an 'all habitat' agreement; applicants are not be able to select which habitat areas to include in the contract.
Applicants can include additional land to be managed as habitat in the application.
There will be a competitive scoring and selection process; the scheme will target areas where the greatest environmental benefits can be achieved.
The payment rates for habitat management are:
|For individual farm business||Payment rate|
|Habitat land||£69 / ha|
|Woodland habitat||£62 / ha|
|For common land||Payment rate|
|Common land management payment||£25 / ha|
|Additional payment for stock management||£15 / ha|
|Additional payment for mixed grazing||£12 / ha|
|Additional payment for reduce stocking||£259 / ha|
The maximum payment to individual applicants will be capped (see table below). There will be no capping for common land payments.
0 – 200 ha of eligible land
100% of the payment rate
200 -400 ha of eligible land
50% of payment rate
400 ha +
10% of payment rate
Successful applicants will submit a claim via their SAF form in 2024.
Payment will be based on the area of eligible habitat land, or land bought under habitat management. Full guidance has been published on the Welsh Government Habitat Wales Scheme page.
No supporting capital works will be offered as part of the scheme, successful applicants will be eligible to apply for the Small Grants – Environmental scheme for capital support.
Welsh Government has issued an addendum to the Habitat Wales Scheme Rules to include exceptional circumstances on identified habitat land.
Farming Connect held a webinar on 25 September where they gave an overview of the new scheme's key points and eligibility. Colleagues from RPW were also be present to demonstrate the application process.
The recording is available here.
NFU Cymru President Aled Jones said: “This news will be a cause of significant worry for thousands of farmers who currently hold Glastir Advanced, Common and Organics contracts. Many of these farmers have been involved with agri-environment delivery for 30 years or more and have adjusted their businesses accordingly, with Glastir area-based payments making up an integral component of farm business viability, as well as supporting the transition to and maintenance of organic farming in Wales.
The period of change
“Welsh Government said it intends to make this period of change as easy as possible for farmers by offering a fair transition over several years, giving farmers time to prepare; testing new approaches to make sure they work before removing existing support; and winding-down existing support payments in an orderly way, making sure there is no cliff edge in funding.
“This announcement seems to be completely at odds with these aims and will not inspire confidence in Welsh Government’s commitment to the viability of farming businesses and providing fair reward for delivering environmental outcomes. That a decision of such significance has been taken by Welsh Government without modelling of impact or consultation is alarming.
"Welsh Government now needs to provide urgent reassurance to those farming businesses who have made long term commitments to the delivery of environmental outcomes that they will not be financially worse off.”
Aled Jones, NFU Cymru President
“Without detail on budget allocation, it is impossible to judge whether this interim habitat-only scheme can support farm business viability in the void left by Glastir."
NFU Cymru continues to meet with Welsh Government officials and politicians from all parties to seek further clarification on the new scheme and to voice members' concerns.
NFU Cymru has consistently worked on behalf of members to highlight the important role that Glastir plays in providing fair reward to farmers for the environmental work they do on farm and the need to avoid a ‘cliff edge’ in funding between the ending of Glastir and the introduction of any new scheme. Below is a snapshot of the work that we have done on this issue.