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Away-Wintering of Sheep

Option closed to new applications

Introduction

This Option provides support for sheep to be removed from upland sites in winter to another farm.

What this will achieve

This will help to regenerate suppressed heather or other moorland vegetation of conservation interest by reducing the impact of sheep in winter when they are most likely to be damaging. In winter, sheep are most likely to browse heather once grasses have stopped growing for the winter and to cause poaching when the soil is saturated. Away-wintering will protect upland species and habitats and their soils.

What you can do

Requirements

  • You must prepare and implement a Moorland Management Plan. The Plan should describe the current condition of the moorland and how it is managed.  It must identify the baseline flock number (the number of ewes and gimmers recorded in the IACS business’ or Common Grazings’ flock).  It must say how many ewes or hoggs you will winter elsewhere, and explain how the removal of these animals will improve the condition of the moorland. It should consider other management options and explain why away wintering is the best Option for your site. The plan should take account of the combined impacts of livestock and other grazing animals. We would expect you to provide flock records for the last 3 years with your application.  These records will provide evidence to support your baseline flock number and to establish whether the business has traditionally away wintered ewes or hoggs;

  • We will not pay you to reduce the stocking density from a level where ‘overgrazing’ occurs to the level where ‘overgrazing’ (defined under Good Agricultural and Environmental Condition) no longer occurs.  We will only pay you for reducing the stocking density below the level required to prevent ‘overgrazing’.  Stocking levels appropriate to each site will vary with factors such as aspect, soil type, local climate and altitude. As a rough guide, we expect stocking levels to be 2.25 ewes per ha or less;

  • We will not pay you to reduce the stocking density to a level where ‘undergrazing’ would occur (defined under Good Agricultural and Environmental Condition);

  • For businesses or Common Grazings that have traditionally away wintered ewes or hoggs, we will only pay you to away winter a number of sheep over and above the number which you have previously away wintered;

  • You must remove an agreed number of ewes or hoggs from the moorland and your IACS business for at least 22 weeks during the winter;

  • If signs of negative impacts on the habitats are detected you must review the plan with SNH or Scottish Ministers and agree any changes necessary to meet the targets;

  • Each year you must submit an annual record of management that includes details of the numbers and timings of stock away wintered.
     

Who can apply

All land managers are eligible to apply for this Option.

Eligibility criteria

This Option is available where it will benefit upland, moorland or peatland sites.
Land receiving payments for similar management under other agri-environment schemes is not eligible under this Option.

Please see the Definitions of Land Types page for more details.

Rate of support

This is a 5-year commitment. We will pay you £21 per hectare per year. We will pay in the Spring of the following year. For the purposes of payment, it is assumed that each ewe disposed of will benefit 0.8 hectares of moorland. Please see AR Payments On-line Guidance for information about when claims should be submitted.

What costs could be supported

For a comprehensive list of Capital Items click here. Any cost claimed must be fully justified.

When completing your Proposal, you can select the appropriate capital item(s) from the dropdown list of standard cost capital items for this Option.

In addition to these capital items, financial support of up to 100% of eligible actual costs is available in respect of the following:

Please note that this capital item will not appear in the dropdown list of Standard Cost capital items for this Option and will need to be entered manually in the box for Actual Cost capital items. Only costs for the types of capital works listed above should be entered in the Actual Cost capital items box for this Option. Any other costs entered cannot be considered for funding.

To ensure value for money we require you to provide 2 competitive quotes for any capital items applied for which are based on actual cost. If, however, you are seeking grant support towards something so specialised it is only available through 1 source then we would accept 1 quote. Please see the guidance on quotes and estimates for more information.

Inspection/verification

The inspector will check the requirements (as detailed above under 'what you can do') of the Option are being met, by a visual assessment on the day of inspection.

Beneficiaries must comply with the requirements of cross compliance and the minimum requirements for fertiliser and plant protection products. You must also comply with the requirements to avoid damaging any features of historic or archaeological interest, and follow Scottish Ministers' guidance for the protection of such areas or features (detailed in links below).

The following is a brief overview of the inspection procedures, for a full explanation please see links below:

Inspectors will check:

  • If the approved Moorland Management Plan is being carried out.
  • Sheep records verify removal of the agreed number of ewes and hoggs from the Moorland and IACS business for at least 22 weeks during winter.
  • Changes to the Plan have been agreed with SNH or Scottish Ministers.
  • Claimed capital items have been completed to approved amounts and scheme standards.
     

List of links to relevant technical guidance