Protecting the environment

Farmers, crofters and land managers can bid for a slice of a fund aimed at promoting low carbon farming and protecting the environment.

Rural Economy Secretary Fergus Ewing launched the latest round of the Agri-Environment Climate Scheme (AECS) today and revealed that rural businesses will have until March 31 to apply for the funding.

The funding will help to:

  • protect vulnerable and iconic species and habitats
  • reduce greenhouse gas emissions from agriculture
  • secure carbon stores in peatlands and other organic soils
  • improve water quality by reducing diffuse pollution
  • control flooding through natural flood risk management
  • support organic farming
  • preserve the historic environment
  • improve public access

Since launching in 2015 1,573 applications have been approved committing £103.9 million to rural businesses.

Mr Ewing said:

“This approach to land management is not only good for the planet, but also good for food producers' pockets. We want Scotland to be a world-class producer of high quality food: sustainably, profitably and efficiently in environmental and economic terms.

“The farming and food production sector is key to achieving this ambition – change will only happen with the involvement of primary food producers, that's why I would encourage rural businesses to apply for this latest round of the Agri-Environment Climate Scheme so they can realise the economic and environmental benefits of low carbon farming.

“The funding can be used to improve water quality, protect land and support organic farming and importantly it will help us meet our ambitious climate change targets.

“We recently published a draft Climate Change Plan which sets out a package of policies and proposals that will help maintain Scotland's reputation as a climate leader within the international community.

“Rural businesses can support these ambitions through the Agri-Environment Climate Scheme and help us create a fairer, greener, more prosperous nation.”

Mr Ewing announced the latest round of funding on a visit to meet Janet and Jim Beveridge who run a farm at Gartlea near Gartocharn in West Dunbartonshire, who will receive around £50,000 through the 2016 AECS scheme to tackle pollution and restore peatlands. Janet Beveridge said:

“Our farm has been doing agri-environment work for over 25 years, the AECS scheme funding will help us to continue this work but also to build upon it. We will use the funding to manage habitat on the farm for a variety of different plant species such as butterfly and fragrant orchid and yellow rattle.

“I have a keen interest in environmental issues and our farm has lots of natural open habitat that we can manage to make it more attractive for wildlife, like butterflies and waders. The AECS project funding will provide us with the opportunity to do additional things such as control diffuse pollution by fencing off our livestock from water margins and also to improve our peatland too.

“It's very important that schemes such as AECS are available for farmers to help manage their habitat. Otherwise without schemes like these, there could be over-grazing or poaching. I would encourage other farmers to think about the habitat on their farm and to apply for the AECS scheme this year, to help them make some changes that could benefit both them and the environment.”

Last updated: 30 January, 2017