The group currently has 23 members and includes a range of landowners, from larger commercial mixed farmers to small meadow owners.

The High Weald area of outstanding natural beauty (AONB) Partnership is supporting the group by:

  • running workshops with industry experts focusing on topical subjects of interest to group members;
  • running group meetings to share best practice such as managing diffuse pollution, soil management, hedgerow management and meadow management;
  • providing advice to the group on applying for countryside stewardship mid tier, higher tier and capital grants schemes. All members of groups supported by DEFRA’s countryside stewardship facilitation fund automatically qualify for a 20% uplift in their scores which increases their chances of a successful application;
  • directing group members to other non government grants such as Sussex Lund and the new water company led grant programmes and helping with applications. Southern Water and South East Water are offering farmers and landowners in the catchment small payments to substitute the slug killer metaldehyde with pellets based on ferric phosphate. The water companies are responsible for maintaining water quality and keeping pesticides below certain levels. Natural England officers in the field are coordinating the payments;
  • liaison with other advisers and specialists to run the group’s activities; and
  • help with tackling issues that require cooperation across land holdings such as deer management.

A launch meeting was held on 1 November 2016 and a healthy soils workshop was held on 29 November 2016. A variety of workshops and group meetings which appeal to the range of interests in the group are planned for 2017. For further information contact: Matt Pitts on 01424 723007 or

Anyone who wants to join the group can download the application form by going to the High Weald AONB home page and clicking on the “look after” tab on the main menu: the group’s name will appear at the bottom of the drop down menu.

Return the application to Matt Pitts at the High Weald AONB Partnership, Woodland Enterprise Centre, Hastings Road, Flimwell, East Sussex, TN6 7PR. Signing up to the group will not commit anyone to applying for countryside stewardship or any other grant scheme.