14 September 2001
Scots slam green cash shortfall

By Shelley Wright, Scotland correspondent

SCOTLANDS farmers have hit out at the governments failure to provide enough cash to cover the growing number of producers who want to join agri-environment schemes.

Rog Wood, chairman of NFU Scotlands environment and land use committee, points out that 476 farmers have applied this year for funding under the Rural Stewardship Scheme.

Their combined applications would need a budget of 28.5 million. Instead, the Scottish Executive has made only about 4.5m available.

“We are frustrated that, compared with other countries in Europe, Scotland seems to have so little money available to help farmers carry out environmental projects on farms,” Mr Wood says.

“The Scottish Executives budget for ongoing and new projects, including organic conversion aid, is around 30m annually, compared with Ireland which puts around 100m a year into agri-environment measures.”

After deducting organic aid and payments for ongoing projects, only about 4.5m is left for new schemes every year.

This budget will be allocated competitively, so only a few of the 476 applicants will succeed, he says.

“It is clear that plenty of farmers are coming up with good ideas and want to make environmental improvements. But the funding isnt there.

“Our government simply isnt taking the environment seriously enough. This needs to be put right,” says Mr Wood.