By Fwi staff

SCOTLANDS rural development minister, Ross Finnie, has failed to win EU approval to maintain the safety net for the Less Favoured Areas Support Scheme at 90% for next year.

The safety net was introduced this year to ease the transition from headage to area-based payments.

Mr Finnie had said he would seek EU approval to allow this to be maintained at 90% for 2001-02, 10% higher than previously agreed.

But on Wednesday, EU farm commissioner Franz Fischler formally rejected the proposal, for fear of setting a costly precedent.

NFU Scotland president, Jim Walker, said: “We cannot allow this decision to be the end of the story and we expect the Scottish Executive to deliver on its promises of solutions.”