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Upland Habitat Management Plan

Option closed to new applications

Introduction

This Option supports the preparation of Upland Habitat Management Plans to maintain and enhance the condition of special features on upland sites designated as Sites of Special Scientific Interest, Special Protection Areas or Special Areas for Conservation ( SSSIs, SPAs or SACs). It is available for sites with complex management requirements.

Please note: Under other Options, Upland Habitat Management Plans may be referred to as Moorland Management Plans or Deer Management Plans. Under this Option, both are referred to as Upland Habitat Management Plans.

What this will achieve

This Option will help to maintain and enhance a range of upland and peatland habitats and species by promoting good soil and grazing management.

What you can do

This Option will help you to prepare an Upland Habitat Management Plan for large upland areas with complex management requirements; for example, where livestock and deer range over open hill ground and hefts and deer ranges occupy land managed by several people. These Plans will be prepared by a consultant, who will provide specialist advice, gather survey information and facilitate meetings to promote collaboration and reconcile competing objectives.

This Option supports both the preparation of the Upland Habitat Management Plan and an annual review of the Plan during the first 4 years of its implementation. You can, where appropriate, apply for support to undertake deer counts and habitat impact assessments to inform the preparation of the Plan. Where deer are present, you must undertake a repeat habitat impact assessment to inform a mid-term review of the Plan and, where necessary, a repeat deer count.

Requirements

When you undertake to develop an Upland Habitat Management Plan through this Option, you are also making a commitment to implement your Plan. You may make a separate application for support to implement your Plan through Rural Priorities Options (although there is no guarantee of success) or you may implement it at your own expense.

You must:

  • assess the site and prepare an Upland Habitat Management Plan for upland within or affecting designated SSSI,SAC and SPA sites which are at risk from negative deer or livestock impacts;
  • within 12 months of starting to undertake this Option, submit the Upland Habitat Management Plan to the Scottish Ministers for approval;
  • within 13 months of starting to undertake this Option, begin implementing the Upland Habitat Management Plan;
  • undertake an annual review of the Plan during the first 4 years of its implementation; and
  • where deer are present, undertake a mid-term review of the Plan, starting in the 3rd year of its implementation.

The Upland Habitat Management Plan must:

(a) comply with technical guidance* for Upland Habitat Management Plans;

(b) provide an audit of the condition of the upland site;

(c) be supported by survey and monitoring information, for example a habitat impact assessment;

(d) detail which habitats you will re-assess when you are implementing the Plan and detail how they will be sampled;

(e) include achievable targets for enhancing the condition of key habitats within a 5 year implementation period for the Upland Habitat Management Plan;

(f) identify how you will minimise the impacts of grazing animals on the condition of the special features of the site, and identify how you will address the impacts of deer and/or livestock in an integrated manner;

(g) take account of the Plan's likely impact on neighbouring land and any aspects of neighbouring land that might affect its delivery; and

(h) include a timetable for implementing the Upland Habitat Management Plan, including dates when you will undertake an annual review of the Plan and when any repeat surveys will take place.

Where neighbouring land managers wish to collaborate (and e.g. where deer and/or livestock have free range across management unit boundaries, or where deer and livestock management is carried out on the same management unit by different parties) they must:

(a) establish a forum to consult and agree objectives and actions;

(b) consult SNH to ensure the upland range being targeted is biologically viable;

(c) ensure the Upland Habitat Management Plan is prepared by a consultant;

(d) ensure the Upland Habitat Management Plan includes measures to manage the impact of grazing and trampling over the collaborative area, and provides both a Plan overview (an overview of how deer and livestock impacts will be managed over the collaborative management area) and individual Plans for each land holding; and

(e) share the costs of preparing the Plan overview among forum participants (in a manner decided by participants), with each land manager liable for the cost of the Plan for their own holding plus their share of the Plan overview.

Where deer are present:

(a) you must comply with SNH Best Practice Guidance on Deer Management Plans;

(b) where recent and adequate survey information isn't available, you must undertake a deer count and a habitat impact assessment to inform the development of your Plan;

(c) you must carry out a repeat habitat impact assessment in the 3rd year of implementing the Upland Habitat Management Plan and use it to inform subsequent Plan reviews and deer management;

(d) where the habitat impact assessment indicates that the deer management must be adjusted to meet targets, you must carry out a repeat deer count by helicopter in the 3rd year or early in the 4th year of implementing the Plan to inform changes to the Upland Habitat Management Plan in the 4th and 5th year of the implementation period;

(e) we expect you to apply for a repeat deer count. However, where the habitat impact assessment indicates that a repeat deer count is not required, you must notify Scottish Ministers before 30th September and seek their approval to vary your agreed works;

(f) your habitat impact assessment and the deer count must comply with the SNH Best Practice guidance;

(i) your Plan must take account of the impacts of deer on any woodland habitats within or linked to open range areas; and

(g) your Plan must take account of any Plans prepared under the Woodland Improvement Grant Option for adjacent woodland.

You must review and update the Upland Habitat Management Plan at the end of each of the first 4 years in which you implement it. In the case of annual deer culls, the review must take place after the cull and by 30th April.

You may wish to commission several consultants when preparing and reviewing the Upland Habitat Management Plan; you will be responsible for managing these contracts.

We recommend early consultation with SNH, before you submit your completed Plan for approval.

You must keep a record of your Plan and any assessments, reviews and associated meetings for inspection.

Who can apply

This Option is available to all land managers (individuals, businesses or properly constituted groups), in all areas of Scotland, who own or occupy the land to be managed under the Upland Habitat Management Plan and who will retain legal occupation of that land for a 6-year period: 1 year to complete the Plan plus 5 years to implement it.

Eligibility criteria

This Option is available over deer ranges or livestock hefts containing SSSIs, SPAs or SACs which are at risk from negative deer or livestock impacts, where the management will help to deliver the Favourable Condition target, as agreed with SNH.

This Option is available where, in the opinion of SNH:

(a) the areas to be managed are large, have complex management issues or where collaboration with other land managers is required; and

(b) deer management, deer and livestock management or livestock management can be used to maintain or bring into favourable condition the upland features that are affected by grazing impacts; and

(c) where deer are present,

a. the proposed Upland Habitat Management Plan considers whole deer ranges/livestock hefts which are sufficient to enable the delivery of Option objectives; and

b. there is no requirement for compulsory management measures.

You must demonstrate that the eligible cost exceeds the funding available for an Outcome Plan with Specialist Input.

Land receiving payments for developing similar management Plans under other agri-environment schemes is not eligible under this Option.

All of your activities must meet the minimum specifications and the requirements specified in the Option requirements and in the table below.

You must comply at all times with the Good Agricultural and Environmental Conditions (GAEC) that apply to all your land.

If you undertake this Option, and later choose to make a separate application for support to implement your Upland Habitat Management Plan, you will not be eligible for payment for Specialist Input to your Outcome Plan when you make an application to implement your Plan.

What costs could be supported

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

Financial support of up to 100% of eligible actual costs is available in respect of the following:

  • Upland Habitat Management Plan - Site assessment - including habitat impact assessment and open range deer count, as appropriate
  • Upland Habitat Management Plan - Plan preparation - including annual reviews at the end of the first 4 years of the Plan's implementation period (use a separate row in the on-line application system for each review year)
  • Repeat Habitat Impact Assessment in year 3 of the Plan's implementation
  • Repeat Open Range Deer Count if required in year 3 or early in year 4 of the Plan's implementation

A Repeat Open Range Deer Count will only be supported where you have included it in your application. If you have not included it, and you find that you do need to undertake one you will have to do so at your own expense.

To ensure value for money we require you to provide 2 competitive quotes to support any actual cost items/activities. 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 application guidance for this Option and the guidance on quotes and estimates for more information.

Rate of support

This is a 6-year commitment. We will pay you up to 100% of eligible costs associated with the activities detailed in the table below. We will pay up to a maximum of £64,383 for the preparation and review of Upland Habitat Management Plans to manage deer or deer and livestock. This maximum threshold applies to the total cost of the activities that you propose to undertake under this Option. If you are working in collaboration with others to develop a Plan, the threshold applies to each individual application. For Plans to manage livestock only, we will pay up to a maximum of £1600 and a minimum of £600. Again, these thresholds apply to each individual application.

You may claim for what is agreed in your contract. You can only claim payment in the year, or years, stated in your Schedule of Works. You may submit an interim claim for any of the activities listed in the table below. We will make payments in arrears and all claims must be supported by receipted invoices in accordance with guidance for making claims for actual cost capital items as described in How to make a capital claim.

In addition to the maximum grant levels, the total amount of grant payable for non-agricultural, commercial activities can be limited because of rules applied in relation to State Aid.

Summary of activities that can be supported under the Upland Habitat Management Plan Option A specification for each activity is provided via the links in the table below.

Eligible costs include:

Schedule

Conditions and requirements

  • Site assessment (including habitat impact assessments and open range deer counts where these do not already exist)

In year 1 of the Plan's development.

Must conform to SNH Best Practice Guidance on Impact Assessment and Open range deer counting.

A survey report must be available on request for each survey undertaken.

  • Plan preparation. Facilitation of Upland Habitat Management Plan preparation including liaison between consultant and land managers (including one-to-one meetings and collective meetings) and stakeholders.

Plan development must be completed within 12 months and its implementation to commence within 13 months.

Must conform to SNH technical guidance* on Upland Habitat Management Plans.

The completed Plan must be available on request.

A copy of the Plan must be submitted for approval with the claim for payment for its development.

2. Plan annual review (including facilitation of annual review of the Plan and update of targets and actions)

Must be carried out annually at the end of the first 4 years of the Plan's implementation. For Plans that involve deer culls the review will take place after the deer cull and by 30 April.

A record of these consultations must be available on request.

  • Repeat habitat impact assessment

In 3rd year of the Plan's implementation.

Must conform to SNH Best Practice Guidance.

A survey report should be available on request for each survey undertaken.

  • Repeat open range deer count

If needed, in 3rd year of Plan's delivery or early part of 4th depending on weather conditions during the counting period.

Must conform to SNH Best Practice Guidance. A survey report must be available on request for each survey undertaken.

Note: Applicants addressing livestock impacts alone may only claim support for the costs of Site assessment, Plan preparation and Plan annual review. Costs associated with Open range deer counts and Repeat Habitat Impact Assessments are only available to applicants addressing deer or deer and livestock impacts.

Costs of land managers' own labour or vehicles are not eligible for payment under the Upland Habitat Management Plan Option.

Timetable for undertaking activities through the Upland Habitat Management Plan Option

Year

Year 1

Year 2

Year 3

Year 4

Year 5

Year 6

Plan development

1. Habitat impact assessment

1. Deer Count

2. Plan preparation

         

Plan review

 

2. Plan annual review

2. Plan annual review

3. Repeat habitat impact assessment

4. Repeat open range deer count

2. Plan annual review

2. Plan annual review

 

Note: You can apply for support to review the plan and to undertake repeat habitat impact assessments or deer counts under the Upland Habitat Management Plan Option, but any other activities associated with implementing the Plan must be undertaken either through separate Rural Priorities contract(s) or at your own expense.

Inspections/verification

We may inspect and verify the work that you have carried out. Please see the guidance on inspections. The inspector will verify:

  • that the work including any carried out under leverage, meets the standards and conditions as set out in the approval;
  • is technically sound; and
  • that the claimed costs are justified.

When preparing, reviewing and implementing your Plan, you must comply with the requirements of cross compliance.

Inspectors will check:

  • An Upland Habitat Management Plan has been prepared and submitted for approval within 12 months of starting to undertake this Option;
  • Implementation of the Approved Upland Habitat Management Plan has started within 13 months of starting to undertake this Option;
  • Approved Upland Habitat Management Plan is being reviewed annually during the first 4 years of the Plan's implementation and it is being implemented in accordance with the Option specifications. For Plans that involve deer culls the review has taken place after the deer cull and by 30 April;
  • A Repeat Habitat Impact Assessment has been undertaken in the 3rd year of the Plan's implementation;
  • Where necessary, a Repeat Deer count has been undertaken in the 3rd, or early in the 4th year of the Plan's implementation;
  • SNH has confirmed no damage has taken place; and
  • Claimed capital items have been completed to approved amounts and scheme standards.

* Technical Guidance for Upland Habitat Management Plans is currently unavailable, but will be published soon.

List of links to relevant technical guidance