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We are working to provide a normal service during the COVID-19 pandemic, but if you have difficulty accessing the portal please contact us and we will try to assist  

Rural Payments Agency are working in partnership with local authority historic environment services and Historic England to provide pre-application advice on prospective Countryside Stewardship agreements. 

The Countryside Stewardship manuals explain how an applicant should consult on the historic environment, and the HEFER service standard sets out the approach for historic environment consultees to respond.  

  • RPA submit a consultation via the HEFER portal, usually when a CS application pack is requested.
  • Historic England are consulted where a designated asset (Scheduled Monument, Registered Park or Registered Battlefield) is present within the consultation area, and provide advice on the management and enhancement of these features.  
  • For all HT and some MT applications, the relevant local authority service(s) is also consulted, and has the opportunity to add known non-designated historic environment features (above and below-ground archaeological sites, historic buildings and landscape features) as SHINE features and to add management recommendations for each feature (Higher Tier only).
  • Responses will be completed within 20 working days from request - in part automatically where a local authority has been unable to contribute.
  • The CS applicant (and RPA/NE adviser) will receive an email containing a link to download the completed HEFER report.
  • A Mid-Tier HEFER consists of a series of maps showing all SHINE and designated features within the consultation area and a HEFER report, listing the historic environment features present, their significance, and for designated assets, management advice. 
  • A Higher Tier HEFER includes management recommendations for SHINE and designated features within the consultation area.
  • Applicants should refer to the Understanding Your HEFER - tips for applicants document to make the most of the information provided.
  • The CS manuals explain how to use the HEFER to verify and check the location of options and capital items, and their eligibility for historic environment options.

All general Countryside Stewardship queries should be directed to ruralpayments@defra.gov.uk Telephone 03000 200 301 (Opening times: 8:30am to 5pm Monday to Friday). If you have a Natural England adviser please contact them for Higher Tier application and agreement queries.

ALGAO members should check the ALGAO Countryside Committee webpage for updates and send any queries to the HER help on the Contact page.

Historic England & Natural England advisers should address any issues to the relevant help address on the Contact page.

Any outstanding queries regarding HEFER payments should be sent to enquiries@naturalengland.org.uk and copied to ruth.beckley@cambridgeshire.gov.uk.

Last Modified: Mar 17, 2020