UK: Energy crops scheme deadline looms

A miscanthus crop at Lakenheath

A miscanthus crop at Lakenheath - Credit: PA

Natural England is urging farmers to get their applications for new agreements under the Energy Crops Scheme(ECS), which must be submitted by August 31.

Applications from land managers or their agents must be in by this date for new agreements to start by the end of December 2013.

The aim of the scheme is to support the planting of miscanthus and short rotation coppice, energy crops used as a substitute for fossil fuels, in appropriate locations. Payments cover 50% of the costs of establishing the crop. ECS participants can plant in one year, or choose to phase the planting for up to three years.

Under the arrangements for the current scheme planting can be undertaken in 2013, 2014 and 2015.

If you wish to apply for the scheme, amend an existing agreement, or would like more information the please contact Natural England’s Energy Crops team on 0300 060 1624/1413, e-mail or visit the ECS webpages.

Comprehensive information about making an application to the Energy Crops Scheme can be found in the updated Energy Crops Scheme: Establishment Grants Handbook which can be downloaded from the Natural England website.

The Energy Crops Scheme was established as part of the Rural Development Programme for England, 2007-2013. With the current RDPE drawing to a close at the end of 2013, no agreements under the current scheme can be entered into after that date

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No decision has been made on how energy crops will be supported after the current scheme comes to an end. Work is currently in progress at Government level on the development of the next Rural Development Programme. For more information, please see the Natural England webpages that will provide updates on the transition to the next RDP.

In the meantime, Natural England is assuring its ECS customers that all existing agreements, along with all new agreements that are finalised and signed before December 31, 2013, will continue until their agreed end date.