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Parliamentary debates and questions

S5W-04488: Rachael Hamilton (South Scotland)

Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party

Date lodged: 3 November 2016

To ask the Scottish Government what plans it has to review its agricultural environmental schemes.

Answered by: Roseanna Cunningham 18 November 2016

The principal agricultural environmental schemes in Scotland are the Agri-Environment Climate Scheme (AECS) and the Environmental Co-operation Action Fund (ECAF) under the Scottish Rural Development Programme (SRDP), supported through ‘Pillar 2’ of the European Union’s Common Agricultural Policy (CAP).

We are currently seeking EU approval to introduce changes to the detailed prescriptions for management options under the Agri-Environment Climate Scheme which will improve the accuracy of payment rate calculations and/or improve the clarity or effectiveness of management requirements. We also intend to introduce minor changes to improve the accuracy of targeting maps for certain management options. We intend to implement these changes in time for the 2017 application round. During 2017, we intend to review the scoring criteria against which applications are assessed, to ensure these are as effective as possible in identifying good quality applications.

The Environmental Co-operation Action Fund was launched in 2015. We are currently reviewing the design of the Environmental Co-operation Action Fund and any improvements will be implemented in time for the 2017 Environmental Co-operation Action Fund application round.

‘Pillar 1’ Greening was introduced in 2015. The basic framework for Greening is set out in the EU Regulation, but certain detailed rules were subject to national discretion. The Scottish Government has not announced any plans to review the national decisions regarding the implementation of Greening in Scotland, although we are engaging with stakeholders to discuss their views on the effectiveness of Greening.

Our vision for the future is an agriculture industry in Scotland that is innovative, profitable, sustainable and supporting economic growth. We will work closely with industry to develop the next steps to help realise that vision, and this will help inform our deliberations on what future support measures, for the period after the UK leaves the EU, may be appropriate for the industry. The Scottish Government will negotiate with the UK Government to ensure that future support for agriculture and rural development is allocated on a fair and equitable basis across the UK.