Eligibility and general application questions
Q: Can the Landscape Advisors proactively work with local communities/landowners to work up potential projects?
A: Their involvement can’t stretch beyond guidance due to their involvement in the decision-making process. They are also unlikely to have the capacity to proactively help all potential applicants and would give unfair advantage to those helped.
Q: In relation to Panel approved full application – please confirm what “promotion of a scheme of works” means.
A: This has been summarised as making the local community and stakeholders aware of the scheme and it was deemed important that this was done in advance of any works.
Q: Can we call in external contractors for advice and works as part of the funding?
A: Use of external contractors is acceptable.
Q: Can an LEI application include the commissioning of a management plan and the engaging of an ecological consultant to oversee the works?
A: There is no problem including the cost of plans and any staffing including consultants in your project costs. However, in relation a management plan, it is likely that the plan would need to come first, i.e. before you apply, otherwise it will be difficult to give a realistic budget. Unfortunately, you cannot ask for costs that have already been incurred so any resources used for a plan prior to a grant award would not be eligible.
Q: What is the likelihood of Ofgem approving any LEI applications once it reaches them?
A: To date, Ofgem has not rejected any applications.
Q: How long can the approved LEI programs run for?
A: 3 years plus 3 years maintenance.
Q: Is there a GIS map available with the layout of NG transmission lines?
A: A map is available on the NG VIP website https://www.nationalgridet.com/network-and-assets/network-route-maps
Q: Can ecological benefits form the basis of an LEI application?
A: Applications should focus primarily on the character of the landscape and the visual impact; ecological benefits are a secondary outcome. Project proposals should be clearly aimed at enhancing the character of the landscape. Other criteria for LEI projects including ecological benefits but should not form the basis of the application.
Q: Are we limited to 3 applications per AONB or National Park at any one time?
A: You can have as many projects as you like up to a maximum grant amount of £600k worth of live projects at any one time, with a maximum grant per project of £200k. We encourage larger projects to maximise the grant. “Live” projects are those within the delivery phase. Once they have entered the compulsory three-year maintenance phase they are no longer considered live.
Q: What are the landowners’ responsibilities to maintain beyond the project?
A: There are no requirements from the LEI grant programme, we hope that the landowners are invested to an extent that this is likely to continue voluntarily as the outcome normally benefits the landowner. This could also be included in the agreements between the National Park or AONB and the landowner to be responsible for maintenance for a set period of time beyond the LEI project.
Q: Who is responsible for the delivery of the project where there are landowners or other partners?
A: Responsibility for applying for and delivering the project is firmly with the National Park or AONB, they are also responsible for delivery in line with agreed Ofgem outputs and liaising with the LEI Project team. The relationship with the partners is the responsibility of the applicant.
Q: What is the general rule on funding interpretation boards as part of the project?
A: Interpretation boards cannot be funded by the LEI element of the scheme but can be part of the matched funding of the project.
Q: Does the funding go into the bank accounts of the National Park Authorities and AONB Partnerships despite the partner work and input?
A: The AONB Partnership or National Park Authority is the responsible and accountable party, so all payments will be made to them. Contracts with partner organisations should be drawn up by the AONB Partnership or National Park Authority and they will distribute costs as agreed.
Q: What is the feedback on applications that include car parks?
A: As an example, if the view from the car park was impacted by transmission lines it might be that part of the project plan was to move the car park. It is on a case by case basis and general maintenance of the car park would not be considered and there must be a link with the primary criteria.
Q: Can we use the fund to support land purchase?
A: It will depend upon the amount. A small amount for land purchase may be acceptable and we’ll look at this on a case by case basis.
Q: Could the funding be used to help establish a Community Interest Company or Trust looking to manage land within the project area.
A: Funding cannot be used to set up any organisation to manage land within the project area.
Q: Can the funding be used to remove other intrusions and/or invasive species?
A: Only if this removal is an integral part of the project to enhance the landscape directly affected by the National Grid infrastructure. The purpose of the LEI is to reduce the visual impact of the electricity infrastructure and enhance the landscape quality and all projects are examined against the LEI criteria.
Q: To support the long term management of the landscape will it be possible to use the funding to support training of staff and for the purchase of machinery/equipment to aid the management of sites.
A: Yes, so long as it is a necessary part of the LEI project, which has maximum 3 year implementation and 3 year maintenance periods. There may be legacy benefit beyond that, but an LEI funding application cannot take that into account.
Q: Can the LEI support project development costs?
A: Not at the present time.
The LEI Project team’s expert advisors provide guidance to support applicants developing their own project proposals.
Location and National Grid infrastructure questions
Q: Can projects be proposed where the infrastructure are outside the National Park or AONB?
A: As long as there is strong evidence that the transmission lines have an adverse visual impact directly on the National Park or AONB they can be outside of the boundary, within reason. Evidence of the visual impact is key to the application and can be found in the Landscape and Visual Impact Assessment Technical Report. Proposals will be judged on a case by case basis.
Q: Where can we get the technical reports to help us understand the lines in our area?
A: All the National Parks and AONBs have been sent the detailed assessment report for their area. The Landscape Advisors can also supply copies. You can access the Technical Report, which provides an overview of the assessment (Part 1) and summaries of the assessments of designated areas (Part 2) at this link.
Q: Is it only land where there is National Grid owned infrastructure, as detailed in the shapefiles on the National Grid website (here: https://www.nationalgridet.com/network-and-assets/network-route-maps), that is eligible for the scheme? E.G. We have a site in an AONB where we have power lines. However, when looking at the National Grid shape files and maps, these power lines are not shown so I presume these must be owned/managed by another company?
A: The LEI scheme has been developed by National Grid to mitigate the impact of their infrastructure within protected landscapes (National Parks / AONBs), so projects within 3km of National Grid owned overhead lines are eligible (see further Q&A below re. projects beyond the 3km buffer). However, site specific queries regarding this can be directed to the Landscape Advisors in order to ascertain specific eligibility.
Q: If a pylon run is visible and particularly intrusive beyond the 3km buffer would projects to mitigate its impact beyond 3km be eligible?
A: Yes, 3km is only an approximate guide. The extent of project area is more importantly determined by the combination of extent of the identified landscape and visual effects from the National grid infrastructure affecting the National Park or AONB.
Q: It has been made clear that you cannot fund existing posts within the AONB even though they might be co-ordinating delivery of the project – i.e. office-based project management, can it be assumed that we can include that time towards our 25% match funding?
A: Allocation of existing AONB staff to this project could be included in the match funding so long as their work on LEI is additional to the normal job.
Q: Allocation of Staff Time - Could staff time be used as match funding if the member of staff in question is already a full time AONB officer but is deployed elsewhere (on different projects) and would therefore need to be diverted (for some of their time) to the LEI project?
A: Existing staff time allocated to the LEI project can be funded by the matched funding when a person increases their hours specifically for the LEI scheme.
Q: Time Allowance for Staff – If a new member of staff is proposed to be employed to undertake LEI project management/ implementation how long would the position be eligible to be funded for? Would this just be 3 years for capital works and another 3 year (reduction in time per week) for maintenance? Or could this be proposed for longer into the future?
A: The maximum length of time would be 6 years (up to 3 years for the duration of the project and then up to 3 years for maintenance). It would be anticipated that the staff member would require much reduced hours for the maintenance.
Q: Are there standard rates applied for the cost of volunteer time?
A: The LEI has not set rates but for guidance we would recommend the use of HLF rates for volunteers
Matched Funding Questions
Q: Eligibility of Match Funding – An AONB or National Park has secured £xxx for undergrounding low voltage lines in a proposed LEI project area and want to know if this could be presented as match funding.
A: No, as this is considered a separate but complimentary project which would not form part of the LEI project;
Q: Is the minimum 25% matched funding element part of the £200k max grant or on top of it?
A: It is on top of the max £200k grant.
Q: Can projects last longer than a year, could for example a project funded in 2019 run into 2020? Or does the spend/claim need to be completed in the financial year the project starts in?
A: The financial year of a project begins on the date of the first grant payment and subsequent years grants are given on the anniversary of the first year’s grant payment.
Q: Can we match National Grid funding against other funding sources like HLF for example?
A: Yes, it can be matched against other funding sources.
Q: Can the funding be used to support projects within the setting of the AONB, where views of the landscape are affected by National Grid infrastructure? Or is it only for projects within the AONB or National Park.
A: The physical extent of the AONB or National Park boundary is not a hard constraint to the extent of works where:
- National Grid infrastructure in the setting of the National Park or AONB may result in significant adverse landscape and visual effects within the National Park or AONB
- There may be instances where projects extend beyond the protected area boundary which may be funded where they fulfil the criteria of the LEI and will be judged on a case by case basis.
Project Outputs and Deliverable
Q: Can my outputs change after Ofgem approval?
A: It is important that you deliver the outputs as agreed by Ofgem. The Ofgem approval is under licence and therefore any change in outputs will necessitate a change to the licence agreement and you will need to contact firstname.lastname@example.org to discuss. If your outputs are not changing from the Ofgem agreed licence, then this is acceptable. E.g. If a landowner wants to swap hedge planting from one area to another within the eligible area, as long as the agreed length of hedgerow planting remains the same.