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11/12/13 09:40

Rural development consultation

Views sought on vision for £1.3 billion programme.

Detailed proposals for the new Scotland Rural Development Programme (SRDP) have been set out by Rural Affairs Secretary Richard Lochhead.

They include plans to protect vital rural development support for farmers, including the Less Favoured Area Support Scheme (LFASS), and to increase funding for agri-environmental schemes.

The proposals for the seven-year programme – which is worth more than £1.3 billion between 2015 and 2020 - are now the subject of a formal consultation which opened today. A separate consultation on Pillar One will be launched next week.

Mr Lochhead said:

“A vibrant rural Scotland is one of our greatest assets and today I set out my vision for the new SRDP - an ambitious programme that will delivery our key priorities of sustainable economic growth, environmental sustainability and vibrant rural communities.

“The failure of the UK Government to negotiate anything like a reasonable budget settlement on our behalf will see Scotland continue to have the lowest rural development allocation per hectare in the European Union.

“That is a major disappointment - especially when you consider during the recent Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) negotiations the UK Government had the opportunity to join 16 other EU countries securing hundreds of millions of euros more in rural development funding.

“Despite this blow, I am determined that there will still be opportunities to support our rural communities and economy, and further utilise Scotland’s natural environment and heritage.

“Thriving agricultural businesses are at the heart of my vision and with that in mind I am committed to continuing vital funding at current levels for our Less Favoured Areas Support Scheme (LFASS). This provides essential support for 85% of Scotland’s agricultural land and provides crucial support for farming and crofting businesses in our most fragile and remote areas. We will however continue to review this scheme in line with European regulations.

“I am also committed to addressing other areas of vital importance to our farmers, crofters and the Scottish economy, including supporting Scotland’s livestock sector, new entrants, crofters and small farms; and the need to modernise and improve working practices.

“Of course the SRDP does more than support farming. We must continue developing and sustaining vibrant rural communities which is why funding for LEADER will also be maintained.

“We must also continue to protect and improve our natural environment, and Scotland has ambitious targets for adapting to and mitigating the impact of climate change, along with biodiversity targets. I am minded to increase funding for the new environmental schemes which will be more effectively targeted to ensure we deliver the right actions, in the right place at the right time. This will be complemented by a new fund to facilitate co-operative action at a landscape or ecosystem scale.

“I have already taken on board responses to our first rural development programme consultation that was held earlier this year, and the new SRDP will be clearer, more effective and less bureaucratic to ensure it will better serve the needs of Scotland. I now look forward to hearing views.”

Notes to editors

The consultation on Scotland Rural Development Programme (SRDP 2014-2020) Stage 2 will close on February 28, 2014.

Under the Scottish Government’s proposals for the new SRDP, the programme would comprise:

Scheme/ priority

Possible budget allocation under SRDP 2014-2020 *

LFASS/ANC

£459m

Agri-env and Climate Change

of which:

Specific allocation for peatland restoration: £15m

Cooperative action fund: £10m

£365m

Forestry

£252m

LEADER

£66m

Food and Drink

£70m

Small rural businesses

£20m

Knowledge Transfer and Innovation

£10m

Crofting grants and grants for other small farmers

£20m

New Entrant start-up support

£20m

Advisory Services (including carbon audits)

£20m

Broadband infrastructure in rural areas

£9m

Technical Assistance

Including Scottish National Rural Network; costs of SRDP evaluation and monitoring; and some implementation costs.

£15m

TOTAL (rounded)

£1.326bn

*This table is an illustration of one possible scenario, and is without prejudice to decisions which will be taken after the SRDP consultation.

Plans to limit the transfer to 9.5 per cent from the budget for payments made directly to farmers to the budget for rural development have been already been outlined. The transfer – known as ‘flexibility – is permitted under European Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) regulations and would apply from 2015 - 2020.

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