Could you benefit from Scotland’s AECS Scheme?

4th February 2019

The government are currently encouraging the submission of applications of the AECS Scheme, urging farmers to explore how they can benefit from AECS and access the environmental and economic opportunities of low-carbon farming.

The Agri-Environment Climate Scheme (AECS), which is now open for applications, promotes appropriate management for vulnerable and iconic species and habitats, strengthens ecological networks, controls invasive non-native species and enhances the condition of protected nature sites.

Here, Emily Mason, Chartered Surveyor for H&H Land and Property, discusses her views on the current scheme and the management options available for specific holdings:

“The aim of the scheme is to protect and enhance Scotland’s natural heritage, improve water quality, manage flood risk and mitigate and adapt to climate change, as well as improve public access and preserve historic sites.

The scheme, this year, opened on the 16th January 2019 and the application window will be open for 12 weeks until 12th April. For collaborative projects which involve five or more businesses, the application window will run for a further seven weeks until 31st May. The scheme lasts for 5 years and applications can be submitted until 2020 in order for them to honour payments of the 5 years.

Applications for Slurry Storage can be made during the main AECS window, however, the deadline for standalone slurry store applications is 26th June.

There are different management options available, specific to your holding. Some of the management options which may be available on your holding, provided that you meet all relevant eligibility conditions, include:

Arable

  • Wild Bird Seed for Farmland Birds
  • Grass Strips in Arable Fields
  • Water Margins in Arable Fields

 

Grassland

  • Water Margins in Grassland Fields
  • Species-rich Grassland Management

 

Upland, peatland, moorland and heath

  • Heath Management (Coastal, Serpentine, Lowland and Special Interest)

 

Control of invasive non-native species

  • Control of Invasive Non-native Plant Species

 

Managing water quality and flood risk

  • Managing Steading Drainage and Rural Sustainable Drainage Systems
  • Slurry Storage
  • Management of Floodplains
  • Hard Standings for Troughs and Gateways
  • Livestock Tracks
  • Livestock Crossing
  • River Embankment Breaching, Lowering or Removal
  • Restoring (Protecting) River Banks

 

Public Access

  • Improving Public Access

If a scheme is approved, there is also eligibility to claim for Capital items, which are claimed on the Agri-Environment Climate Scheme capital claim form and can only be claimed once you have completed the work. These will primarily be for fencing and gates.”

Environment Secretary, Roseanna Cunningham said: ‘Since its inception in 2015, the scheme had provided more than £150 million to around 2,500 applicants.’ The scheme is jointly delivered by the Rural Payments and Inspections Division (RPID) of the Scottish Government and Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH), and jointly funded by the Scottish Government and the EU.

“If nothing is ventured, nothing is gained, and with so much uncertainty around the future of subsidies, you should utilise what is currently available. Should an application be successful, it is guaranteed payments for 5 years.

I would certainly recommend to check on the Scottish Government Rural Payments and Services Website:

(http://targeting.ruralpayments.org/?HoldingCode=295%2F0087&SearchButton=SearchButton) to see what management options are available to you”, concludes Emily.

If you wish to discuss this further, please contact Emily Mason at the Carlisle office of H&H Land and Property on 01228 406260. For further information, please visit https://hhland.co.uk/.