17 November 1999
Finnie faces the music over Sewel’s scheme

SCOTTISH rural affairs minister Ross Finnie has been left carrying the can for a business improvement scheme which could be wound up leaving thousands of farmers out of pocket

The Agricultural Business Improvement Scheme was set up by former Scottish Office agriculture minister Lord Sewel.

It now appears the scheme was vastly oversubscribed.

Proposals which would qualify for grants worth £22 million have been submitted for approval. But the Scottish Executive admitted yesterday (Tuesday) that the funds available totalled only £2.2m.

Farmers have been left with no prospect of recovering substantial sums of money they have already spent in preparing their bids for funding.

Costs said to have been incurred include the hiring of consultants and applications for planning permission.