New Habitat Wales Scheme - outline

Farm pond with sheep in the background

A long-awaited Welsh Government announcement of an interim habitat scheme for 2024 has done little to allay the fears of thousands of farming businesses who now face a Glastir cliff-edge at the end of this year, according to NFU Cymru.

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.

What happens to the current Glastir scheme?

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.

Aims of the Habitat Wales scheme

  • 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.

Three eligible land classifications

  1. Land currently under a habitat option within a Glastir Advanced contract (including Glastir Commons).
  2. Habitat land (excluding designated sites), not currently under management in 2023, as identified by published maps on DataMapWales.
  3. 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.

Management requirements

Visit the Welsh Government website for a full list habitat classifications and management requirements.

Application procedure

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.


Contract Value

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.

More information on the new scheme is available on the Welsh Government website

Addendum update (4 October)

Welsh Government has issued an addendum to the Habitat Wales Scheme Rules to include exceptional circumstances on identified habitat land.

Read the addendum which explains changes made to Part 1, Section B of the Welsh Government guidance booklet.


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's view

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 Habitat Wales Scheme work

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. 

NFU Cymru Habitat Wales Scheme timeline

November 2023

NFU Cymru continues to feed in concerns

The union continues to feed in members' concerns to politicians of all parties, with Sam Kurtz MS pressing the Minister on the Habitat Wales Scheme during questions to the Minister at Plenary with other MSs including Llyr Grufydd, Jane Dodds, Peter Fox, Russell George and Rhun ap Iorwerth also voicing concerns

7 November 2023

NFU Cymru writes letter to the Rural Affairs Minister

NFU Cymru President, Aled Jones, wrote a further letter to the Minister. In this letter he highlighted to the Minister the need to support the organic sector. He also reiterated our call for a safety net mechanism to be introduced and asked the Minister to meet with our Rural Affairs Chair, Hedd Pugh, and affected members at her earliest convenience.

2 November 2023

NFU Cymru President makes address at annual conference

During his opening address at the NFU Cymru Conference, President, Aled Jones, highlighted the cliff-edge in funding farmers in Glastir are facing. He asked the Minister, who was in attendance, to introduce a safety net.

October 2023

Lack of confidence in the scheme and call for a safety net mechanism

NFU Cymru President Aled Jones writes to the Rural Affairs Minister to reiterate the lack of confidence Welsh farmers have in the scheme, concerns over the ability of Welsh Government to address the data issues and issue contracts in time for the 1st January start date. The President asks for Welsh Government to introduce a safety net mechanism to limit the losses for those Glastir agreement holders hardest hit by the ending of the scheme.

October 2023

Updated briefing to politicians

NFU Cymru provides a further updated briefing to opposition spokespeople to equip them with the current issues around the new scheme.

October 2023

Sustained media campaign sees more NFU Cymru representatives raising further concerns on the Habitat Wales Scheme outline

NFU Cymru President Aled Jones features on BBC Radio Wales Country Focus and BBC Radio Cymru’s Dros Frecwast as member feedback continues to flood in with faults over the scheme. NFU Cymru Rural Affairs Board Chairman Hedd Pugh and NFU Cymru Brecon & Radnor member Gwyn Prothero lead an ITV Wales News item which centres on farmers’ frustrations over the Habitat Wales Scheme and notes NFU Cymru’s continued lobbying.

October 2023

Welsh Liberal Democrats provide further political challenge

As a result of concerns raised by NFU Cymru members and staff, Jane Dodds questions the Rural Affairs Minister at Plenary on the subject of the incoming Habitat Wales Scheme.

October 2023

Union meets with opposition Rural Affairs leads

NFU Cymru staff and officeholders meet with both Sam Kurtz MS and Llyr Gruffydd MS to discuss funding for agriculture and the Habitat Wales Scheme.

October 2023

NFU Cymru President asks for EOI pause amid mounting issues

Following the launch of the scheme, NFU Cymru President Aled Jones and the union’s staff raise concerns to both the Minister and her officials over habitat data issues relating to the scheme and relay examples of the huge income losses current Glastir holders face from the ending of the scheme and the introduction of the Habitat Scheme. The President asks the Minister to pause the EOI process to address these issues.

October 2023

Mapping issues and projected loss in incomes cement NFU Cymru concerns over new scheme

NFU Cymru voices further disappointment that concerns over the Habitat Wales Scheme raised by the union in a letter to the Minister during the summer have now been realised.

September 2023

Habitat Wales Scheme concerns take centre stage at environment-focussed NFU Cymru event

NFU Cymru President Aled Jones uses his keynote speech at the NFU Cymru / Wynnstay Sustainable Farming Conference to highlight that NFU Cymru is anxious for Glastir contract holders who stand to lose a significant part of their income in 2024. The President calls for the budget of £35m for agri-environment support in Wales to at least be maintained.

September 2023

Ffermio takes a closer look at issues surrounding funding for agri-environment schemes

NFU Cymru works with the Ffermio team at Telesgop on an item exploring the benefits of the current Glastir scheme both to the environment and the wider rural community. NFU Cymru Carmarthenshire member Garry Williams is interviewed by Ffermio presenter Alun Elidyr, where he showcases some of the hedgerow and streamside corridor work he’s carried out in the Glastir scheme and states the importance of the Glastir support to his farm business. Later in the month, NFU Cymru Rural Affairs Chairman Hedd Pugh features again on BBC Radio Cymru’s Bwletin Amaeth programme to bemoan the lack of clarity regards the new scheme.

September 2023

Income concerns highlighted in meeting with the Minister

NFU Cymru President Aled Jones met with the Rural Affairs Minister and highlighted the real concern the union had for the potential income losses facing farmers with the ending of Glastir and the introduction of the Habitat Wales Scheme.

September 2023

Minister’s written statement signals opening of application window for Habitat Wales Scheme

 NFU Cymru calls for further clarity on the budget for the interim scheme.

August 2023

NFU Cymru briefs politicians

NFU Cymru provides opposition spokespeople with a briefing on the RDP, which details the union’s concerns about the Habitat Wales Scheme

August 2023

NFU Cymru works with opposition parties to table questions on the development of the interim habitat scheme

Llyr Gruffydd MS, Plaid Cymru’s Shadow Rural Affairs Spokesman, asks about staffing capacity to develop the new scheme for 2024.

August 2023

Organics concerns get a UK-wide airing

NFU Cymru Organics Representative Haydn Evans speaks to BBC Radio 4’s Farming Today programme to discuss the potential cliff-edge drop in funding for organic farmers in Wales.

August 2023

NFU Cymru takes agri-environment scheme concerns on the road

NFU Cymru’s lobbying to continue to raise political awareness of potential issues surrounding the proposed interim habitat scheme is a major point of discussions with visiting MSs and MPs at county and local show across the length and breadth of Wales.

July 2023

Habitat Wales Scheme announcement the subject of high-level meetings for the union during the Royal Welsh Show

NFU Cymru President Aled Jones, Deputy President Abi Reader and Rural Affairs Chairmain Hedd Pugh met the Rural Affairs Minister Lesley Griffiths, her officials and politicians from all parties to express concern over the Habitat Wales Scheme announcement made the previous week.

July 2023

Welsh Government makes long-awaited announcement of an interim habitat scheme for 2024

NFU Cymru response says that the announcement has done little to allay the fears of thousands of farming businesses facing a ‘cliff-edge’ in funding. NFU Cymru President Aled Jones reiterates this position in interviews to BBC Radio Wales and BBC Radio Cymru.

July 2023

Urgent Glastir request made ahead of the Royal Welsh Show

NFU Cymru President Aled Jones and Deputy President Abi Reader met the Rural Affairs Minister Lesley Griffiths and requested that she urgently commit to extend Glastir for 2024.

June 2023

Union lobbying results in further political pressure

Plaid Cymru MS Mabon ap Gwynfor takes forward concerns about the Glastir cliff-edge with the Minister following discussions with NFU Cymru.

March 2023

More coverage on Glastir concerns

ITV Wales broadcasts an item featuring NFU Cymru Rural Affairs Board Chairman Hedd Pugh and long-time Glastir contract holder Gary Yeomans, from Monmouthshire. The duo highlight the importance of the scheme to Welsh farmers and voice fears over what the future may hold.

March 2023

Glastir worries heard in ETRA Committee

As a result of concerns raised by NFU Cymru, Sam Kurtz MS presses the Minister Lesley Griffiths on the Glastir cliff-edge when she appears before the Senedd’s Economy, Trade and Rural Affairs Committee.

March 2023

Union asks the Minister for Glastir extension

NFU Cymru President Aled Jones and Deputy President Abi Reader met the Minister for Rural Affairs Lesley Griffiths and asked for the extension of Glastir contracts for 2024, asking her to provide certainty and clarity to agri-environment agreement holders.

February 2023

MS challenges the Minister on Glastir cliff edge

Following a meeting with NFU Cymru Brecon & Radnor members, James Evans MS tackles the Minister on the Glastir cliff-edge.

February 2023

Glastir uncertainty broadcast to mainstream audiences

NFU Cymru works with BBC Wales journalist on items focussing on farmers’ decades-long commitment to agri-environment schemes and an uncertain future for this important funding stream. NFU Cymru Rural Affairs Board Chairman Hedd Pugh and NFU Cymru Meirionnydd County Chairman Rhodri Jones feature in item broadcast on BBC Wales Today and S4C’s Newyddion. The piece is also featured on BBC Wales News online and BBC Cymru Fyw.

January 2023

MS addresses NFU Cymru’s Glastir concerns with the Minister in the Senedd

The Minister is quizzed on the Glastir cliff-edge by Sam Kurtz MS at Plenary as a result of concerns raised by NFU Cymru.

January 2023

NFU Cymru works with the trade press to highlight ‘compelling reasons’ why Welsh Government must continue to fund Glastir

NFU Cymru works alongside Farmers Weekly to shine a light on the number of farmers affected by ambiguity over the ending of the Glastir scheme. A union spokesman tells the Farmers Weekly Welsh Government must ‘walk the walk’ and mirror commitments made by Defra to commit to funding agri-environment schemes throughout the transition.

January 2023

NFU Cymru writes to the Rural Affairs Minister outlining the importance of Glastir to Welsh farmers

Union voices concerns over the ending of the Glastir scheme and ambiguity over its future.

December 2022

NFU Cymru President’s New Year message includes Glastir call

NFU Cymru President Aled Jones uses his annual New Year message to urge the Rural Affairs Minister to make an early announcement on the transitional plans for 2024.

October 2022

NFU Cymru response to the Sustainable Farming Scheme Outline Proposals

‘There needs to be a stable and well planned transition from the current CAP legacy schemes’

‘NFU Cymru welcomes the measures Welsh Government has put in place to provide stability and certainty to the farming industry until the end of 2023 through the continuation of the BPS and Glastir.  This must be maintained at, at least, current payment levels’.

March 2021

NFU Cymru response to the Agriculture (Wales) White Paper

‘The importance of a stable and well-planned transition from the current CAP to a new policy developed, designed and implemented in Wales cannot be overstated’.

‘There should be no ‘cliff edge’ of environmental delivery across Welsh farms and all Glastir contract holders must have the option to extend beyond December 2021 until new schemes are fully operational’.

‘We are also concerned by the lack of windows for certain schemes without sufficient explanation. The decision not to open a window for Glastir Entry, for example, has led to significant uncertainty for some farming businesses whose five-year contracts have come to an end. This decision was poorly communicated to the industry and hindered forward business planning. Given that participation in entry level agri-environment was portrayed as a replacement to the Tir Mynydd Scheme, the decision to de-emphasise it represents an unacceptable ‘u-turn’ in policy and also undermines the best available evidence which suggests that the delivery of environmental objectives requires sustained effort over the longer term’.

October 2019

NFU Cymru response to Welsh Government Sustainable Farming and our Land consultation

‘Our vision for a future domestic agricultural policy sets out the importance of a stable and well planned transition from the current CAP to a new policy developed, designed and implemented in Wales’.

‘NFU Cymru does not support the phasing out of the current CAP architecture:  Basic Payment Scheme and Rural Development measures until there is clear evidence that replacement scheme(s) can deliver at least the same level of stability for farming businesses, the food supply chain and rural communities that is currently delivered. Achieving this can only be achieved through comprehensive impact assessments, modelling and piloting of proposed new schemes’.   

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