The Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) has announced that all Countryside Stewardship (CS) agreement holders who claimed in 2017 will be eligible for bridging payments if they have not been already paid.

A bridging payment is an interest-free loan to customers in advance of their full-year payment.

The bridging payments are expected to be made by the end of the month.

Customers will receive 75% of the current estimated value of their Countryside Stewardship 2017 revenue claim.

When the full payment is processed and made, the amount paid through the bridging payment will be held back.

While 82% of 2017 Countryside Stewardship claimants have already received a payment for the important environmental work on their farms, bridging payments are being made to ensure that the remaining 18% of farmers and land managers are not left out of pocket for the work and time they have invested.

Letters and emails are being sent to farmers and land managers awaiting payments this week.

It will remind applicants to make sure bank account and contact details on theĀ Rural Payments ServiceĀ are up-to-date so that bridging payments can be made successfully.

The Rural Payments Agency (RPA) is administrating the payments on behalf of Natural England. This comes ahead of administration work on agri-environment schemes transferring to the RPA later this year.

Defra is continuing to process payments to Environmental Stewardship (ES) customers, and has brought in more people to help pay the remainder as soon as possible