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Creation and management of grassland for hen harriers

Option closed to new applications

Introduction

This Option is available to support Hen Harriers breeding in Special Protection Areas and Sites of Special Scientific Interest. This Option is primarily intended for Orkney but Hen Harriers breeding in some other parts of Scotland may also benefit.

The aim of this Option is to provide foraging areas for Hen Harriers, close to known Hen Harrier nest sites. Management will ensure that a dense cover of grass and other plants is created to support small mammals, especially the Orkney vole, which is a key prey species for Hen Harriers. Suitable locations include arable land, areas of permanent unimproved pasture, and areas of unmanaged or lightly grazed grass, heather or rushes.

What this will achieve

Under this Option, land managers will manage either grassland or rough habitats for Hen Harriers.

The targeted management of grasslands and rough habitats will also benefit a Biodiversity Action Plan (BAP) species the Brown Hare.

What you can do

Requirements

Under this Option you can undertake one of the following activities:

  1. Creation and management of rough grassland on arable land;
  2. Creation and management of rough grassland on improved grassland;
  3. Creation or management of rough grassland on unimproved grass; or
  4. Management of rough habitats for hen harriers.

For all of the above activities:

  • You must provide foraging areas for hen harriers within two kilometres of known hen harrier nest sites;
  • You must provide a dense cover of grass and other plants within the foraging areas;
  • You must agree a livestock management and grazing plan with the Scottish Ministers;
  • For grassland sites:
    • manage grassland sites with nil or light grazing with up to 0.15 livestock units per hectare from 1st May to 30th September, to produce a dense cover of grass and thatch for voles to live in;

Or

    • Agree an alternative grazing regime with Scottish Ministers
  • For rough habitats:
    • maintain rough vegetation for voles with nil grazing

Or

  • in exceptional circumstances, agree a light grazing regime with Scottish Ministers.
  • You must not apply fertiliser, slurry or farmyard manure to the managed area;
  • You must not apply pesticides except with the prior written agreement of the Scottish Ministers for activities such as spot treatment of injurious weeds or control of invasive non-native species;
  • You must not carry out supplementary livestock feeding on the site; and
  • Where a new grassland sward is being created, sow the site with a low productivity grass and herb mix agreed with the Scottish Ministers and use seeds of local origin wherever possible. You must sow the site before or during spring in the first year in which you undertake this Option.

Who can apply

All land managers are eligible to apply for this Option.

Eligibility criteria

This Option is only available to support Hen Harriers breeding in Special Protection Areas and Sites of Special Scientific Interest. The Option is primarily intended for Orkney but Hen Harriers breeding in some other parts of Scotland may also benefit.

The area managed under this Option must be within 2 km of known Hen Harrier nest sites.

  • For Creation and management of rough grassland on arable land

and

Creation and management of rough grassland on improved grassland:

Fields or parts of fields in improved grass or arable cultivation are eligible. These activities are suited to locations that expand areas of adjacent existing cover or provide corridors that link areas of semi-natural habitat. You can only manage up to 2 ha per year unless you have prior written agreement from SNH for a larger area.

  • For Creation or management of rough grassland on unimproved grass:

Areas of semi-improved and reverted improved grassland are eligible. These may contain marshy grassland and fragments of dwarf-shrub cover on the low ground. Areas already managed under the 'creation and management of rough grassland on unimproved grass' Option of the Orkney Hen Harrier Scheme will be eligible for this Option once contracts with that Scheme expire. No hectarage limit applies.

  • For management of rough habitats for hen harriers:

Areas of rough vegetation including heather and native scrub are eligible. No hectarage limit applies.

This Option must be carried out on the same land for the whole of your contract.

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.

What costs could be supported

For a comprehensive list of Capital Items click here. Any cost claimed must be fully justified. The following are examples of what may be claimed:

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

Please note that these capital items 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.

Rural Priorities does not offer support for establishing a species-poor grass sward. Where you need to establish a species-poor sward from arable or improved grassland in order to undertake this Option, you may make a case for assistance to Scottish Natural Heritage and SNH will consider your request, subject to availability of funds. Please contact your local SNH office.

Rate of support

This is a 5-year commitment and we will pay at the end of each year.

We will pay you:

  • For Creation and management of rough grassland on arable land: £256 per hectare per year
  • For Creation and management of rough grassland on improved grassland: £208 per hectare per year
  • For Creation or management of rough grassland on unimproved grass: £124 per hectare per year.
  • For Management of rough habitats for hen harriers: £33 per hectare per year.

Inspections/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.

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:

  • The site is within 2 km of a known hen harrier breeding site.
  • Where rough grassland has been created on arable land or from improved grassland, the area managed does not exceed 2 ha.
  • Compliance with your prepared livestock management and grazing plan
  • Visual check to ensure artificial fertiliser, slurry or farmyard manure have not been applied to the site
  • Pesticide records to ensure pesticides have not been applied to the site
  • Supplementary feeding has not taken place on the site
  • Where a new grassland sward has been created, its composition is consistent with the agreed seed mix.
  • Claimed capital items have been completed to approved amounts and scheme standards

List of links to relevant technical guidance

Minimum requirements for protection of historic or archaeological features

'On the spot' inspections - overview of the inspection procedure