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Scotland’s flagship agrienvironment scheme is reopening in full

Scotland’s flagship agrienvironment scheme is reopening in full

Scotland’s farmers have three months to apply for funding under the 2022 Agri-Environment Climate Scheme, (AECS). This scheme offers funding for activities to address climate change and to protect the environment.

The scheme was open for applications from 24 January. The deadline for most applications is 29 April.

The AECS is Scotland’s most prominent agri-environment scheme. It promotes land management practices that will increase biodiversity and improve water quality.

Also see: Scottish farmers get additional 30m for agrienvironment schemes

The scheme offers an annual payment for a wide variety of management options. These options include leaving unharvested conservation headlands within arable fields for wildlife, to wetland management, and even bog management.

Farmers may also be eligible for payments towards capital costs for one-off activities such as the installation or repair of livestock tracks, hard standings for troughs or gateways, and other related expenses.

The scheme is competitive. Most applications will require a full farm environmental assessment (FEA), covering all holdings.

A supporting management plan is also required for many other options.

Deadline exceptions

The main deadline to apply is 29 April. However, there are a few exceptions.

You can apply for grants to improve slurry storage facilities during the main AECS window (24 Jan to 29 April), but stand-alone applications for slurry stores must be submitted by 24 June.

Large collaborative applications are also eligible for a slightly later deadline, 31 May. This is due to the extra time it can take in order to bring together submissions that involve multiple businesses.

Applications for improving public accessibility are eligible for a separate window, which runs from 28 February to 29 March inclusive.

Expect high interest

Mary Munro, Strutt & Parker’s head of farming, Scotland said that the scheme is a great opportunity. It will help farmers adopt low-carbon farming methods and protect the environment.

The firm anticipates a lot of interest from farmers in this year’s auction.

See Also

This will be a complete round of the scheme, with all the options available for environmental and habitat management. This is a welcome change after the two previous years that only limited funding was provided.

Other funding options for Scotland

The Scottish government also announced that payments will be made to 9,000 farmers and crofters living in remote areas this week under the 2021 Less Favoured Areas Support Scheme, (LFASS).

Farmers will receive a total of 65m this year, and 47m are expected to be released soon.

Farm leaders have welcomed the restoration of the funding available under the scheme to the same level in 2018 – a decision that was welcome given the current challenges facing farmers due to rising fuel, feed, and fertiliser costs.

The government also promised that LFASS payments would continue until 2024.

It has been confirmed that 600,000 more has been allocated for green projects on some Scottish islands.

The money, which is being provided through the Island Communities Fund is supporting projects that aid employment, community resilience, and contribute to Scotland’s transition towards net zero and climate resilient living in islands.

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