Farming in Protected Landscapes

A new grant programme for the Surrey Hills AONB along with all of the National Parks and other AONBs in England

Defra has introduced a new Farming in Protected Landscapes programme, which will run from July 2021 to March 2024. Through the programme, farmers and land managers can be supported to carry out projects that support nature recovery, mitigate the impacts of climate change, provide opportunities for people to discover, enjoy and understand the landscape and cultural heritage, or support nature-friendly, sustainable farm businesses. This is a programme of funding for one-off projects covering these areas of work, not an agri-environment scheme.

By supporting the farmers, land managers and people who live and work in National Parks and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty, we can help protect these exceptional places and support local communities.

The first application window is open from 1 July 2021 to 31 January 2022. (Please note the Surrey Hills AONB will be looking for applications from mid-July).

Click below to find out more about what the programme can support and how it works.


The Farming in Protected Landscapes programme is open to all farmers and land managers (including from the private, public and charity sector) in a National Park, AONB or the Norfolk Broads – or where activity on the ground can bring benefit to one or more of those areas.

Other organisations and individuals can apply, as long as they do this in collaboration with a farmer or land manager, or in support of a farmer or group of farmers.

The programme supports activity on any land within the North Pennines AONB and most of the funding will be provided to projects within the AONB boundary.  It can also support activity on other land where projects can demonstrate benefit to the North Pennines, or the AONB Partnership’s objectives or partnership initiatives.

 You can see the boundary by visiting the MAGIC mapping website. Click on ‘designations’, ‘land-based designations’ and then ‘Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty England.’

What the Programme will pay for

The programme will pay for projects that, in the opinion of the Local Assessment Panel provide value for money and meet at least one of the outcomes listed below, under four themes.

Nature outcomes

  • There is a greater area of wildlife rich habitat
  • There is greater connectivity between habitats
  • Existing habitat is better managed for biodiversity
  • There is an increase in biodiversity

Climate outcomes

  • More carbon is stored and/or sequestered
  • Flood risk is reduced
  • Farmers, land managers and the public better understand what different habitats and land uses can store carbon and reduce carbon emissions
  • The landscape is more resilient to climate change

People outcomes

  • There are more opportunities for people to explore, enjoy and understand the landscape
  • There are more opportunities for more diverse audiences to explore, enjoy and understand the landscape
  • There is greater public engagement in land management, such as through volunteering
  • Farmers and land managers feel increasingly comfortable with providing public goods

Place outcomes

  • The quality and character of the landscape is reinforced or enhanced
  • Historic structures and features are conserved, enhanced or interpreted more effectively
  • There is an increase in the resilience of nature-friendly, sustainable farm businesses, which in turn contributes to a more thriving local economy

Your project must also help to deliver at least one of the aims identified in the Surrey Hills AONB Management Plan.

The kinds of projects the programme might support include:

  • Promoting connectivity between habitats
  • Creating scrapes, ponds or other wetland to support a variety of wildlife
  • Grassland restoration
  • Re-wilding an area of land and promoting natural processes
  • Gathering data and evidence to help inform conservation and farming practice
  • Providing new or easier access opportunities, links to the rights of way network or interpretation of farming and of the natural and historic features
  • Working with new audiences to enable them to experience the Protected Landscape
  • Parking improvements at a key site to provide safe access to popular walking routes and reduce congestion for visitors and for local residents
  • Restoring drystone walls or hedges
  • Conserving historic features on a farm, such as lime kilns or lead mining heritage
  • Action to reduce carbon emissions, or the use of plastics, on a farm
  • Planning for nature conservation, energy efficiency and business resilience, including in farmer clusters
Payment rates

Where there is no commercial gain – up to 100% of the costs.

Where an applicant would benefit commercially from a project – 40% to 80% depending on how much commercial benefit is derived.

If an activity is equivalent to one under Countryside Stewardship (CS), the Programme payment rate will be the same as the CS rate. If not, funding offers will be based on the projected costs of an activity.

Farming in Protected Landscapes and other funding sources

The Programme will work alongside – not in competition with – Defra’s existing and new schemes, adding value where it is most needed. If a potential project can be rewarded through those schemes instead, you will be made aware of them. Note that those seeking support for machinery to increase productivity should utilise the Countryside Productivity Scheme rather than project grants through Farming in Protected Landscapes.

Large scale tree planting may be best delivered through Forestry Commission funding including the England Woodland Creation Offer.

Expression of Interest form

Please complete our Expression of Interest Form to give us a better idea of your proposed project.

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Application assessment

Applications for over £5000 will be judged by a Local Assessment Panel.

The Local Assessment Panel includes representatives from the AONB team, Natural England, the farming and land management community, and other specialists, drawn from the AONB Partnership’s working groups.  We expect that it will meet to make decisions every 6 to 8 weeks.

Applications for less than £5000 will be decided upon by a senior member of the AONB team who has had no previous role in advising on the application.

Applications will be scored on:

Fit with Programme Outcomes – 40% of scoring weighting

Value for money – 20%

Sustainability / legacy – 20%

Deliverability – 20%


Capital infrastructure assets (including, but not limited to, fences, gates, building restoration), should be maintained for 5 years from the date of completion. 

Machinery assets (to deliver conservation work, for example a brush harvester for grassland restoration) should be maintained for 5 years from the date of purchase. 

The requirement to maintain natural, cultural and access activities (for example, management of grassland, restoration of a limekiln) delivered as part of programme will cease no later than 1 April 2024.

Contact Us

If you have a question about the Farming in Protected Landscapes Programme, please email or telephone 01372 220650 (please note that our office is not always staffed full time as we emerge from the pandemic).