As of February 2022, The RPA’s Countryside Stewardship Scheme (CSS) has opened for applications for the penultimate time. However, while CSS may not be around for much longer, this year there is more reason than ever to apply. In light of the upcoming environmental land management schemes (ELMS), Defra have announced that there will be more money available for those in a CSS — with an average payment rate increase of around 30% compared to 2013. But the advantages of entering the CSS in 2022 don’t end there, with Defra hinting at the fact that being in a Stewardship scheme will act as a “great stepping-stone” to its successor— the Local Nature Recovery scheme.
There has never been a better time to apply for Countryside Stewardship and there is no easier way to apply than by using the Land App. You can efficiently design your CSS for free on the platform, all whilst gaining access to additional land insights, collaborating on your plan with colleagues and using your personalised maps and tables as evidence for your application.
Whilst many Land App users have already benefited from our free CSS template, this year we expect more of our users than ever to apply. Whether you’ve used us before, or if this is your first time on the platform, we want to give you as much help as possible.
So, with this in mind, we’ve put together five top tips for a successful CSS application on the Land App.
1. Check the accuracy of your RPA data
If you have a SBI, you’ll be importing your data onto the Land App from the RPA. This is great, as it is very easy to import (read this guide to find out how) and gives you an outline of your holding’s land parcels which you can then use as your canvas for inputting CSS options.
However, make sure that you double check that this RPA data is correct! As this data only provides information at the land parcel level, you may need to submit a RLE1 form to the RPA using this guidance — you can also get this done using our RLE1 template on the Land App.
2. Make sure you aren’t double counting
It’s really important that your CSS application is accurate. One of the ways that your application could get confused is if you accidentally double count land area.
Let’s say you have a field that is five hectares in size, and you decide to map an AB8 wildflower buffer zone around your field which is one hectare big. You’ll need to make sure that the total area remains at five hectares, rather than double counting and registering a six hectare field.
But don’t worry, this is easy to do on the Land App using our subtract tool. Follow this guide to make sure your CSS area adds up.
3. Use the Reports button to create and export a table view
Being able to see a visual representation of your holding is great. It’s easy to manage, gives a perfect overview of your projects and is the best way to work collaboratively with others.
However, for projects such as the CSS, you’ll also need a written version of your plan. On the Land App you can instantly turn your map into a quantified data table using our reports button. This will give you all the details needed for your CSS application. The report can then be exported to Excel for easy submission.
By using this function you’ll save lots of time by not writing it out yourself and you’ll also reduce the margin for error. Follow this guidance to see how easy it is to run a report on your CSS plan.
4. Use our guidance hyperlinks to check Defra eligibility requirements and payments
A lot of the decisions you’ll make when applying for CSS will come down to logistics. Questions about payment rates, option requirements and eligibility will all ultimately play a large part in your CSS design. There is a lot of conflicting information online, so we’ve simplified the research process for you.
For every option that you choose on the Land App, you’ll have direct access to a hyperlink, taking you straight to that options web page on the Government’s official website.
This means you’ll have to spend less time trying to find the correct information, and more time putting your plan into action. Have a look at the official Gov.uk web page for option AB9: Winter bird food.
5. Turn on labels for option codes and area size
The Land App is designed to be interactive. While we give you a CSS template to use, what your plan looks like is up to you. However, we would recommend turning on your option codes and option area sizes as labels onto your map. This will give those reading your application more context as to what your CSS plan involves.
Again, this is very simple on the Land App. Once you’ve selected your preferred option, head over to the details feature menu on the right hand side and turn on any information about that parcel you wish to be displayed on the map. Follow this guidance if you want to find out how.
If you’ve made it this far, hopefully you’re feeling more prepared to map your CSS onto the Land App. If so, you can sign up to the Land App for free:
But, if you need any more help, you can contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
You can also read our full CSS ‘How to’ guidance for even more advice, and do look out for our upcoming CSS webinars taking place throughout the spring. These will focus specifically on completing a CSS map and report on the Land App.
You can watch the clips from our last CSS webinar on our Land App Youtube channel.
Team Land App