Scottish agri-environment grant scheme open for applications

Grants have been made available to help farmers in Scotland increase or upgrade slurry storage capacity, convert to organic farming or support priority bird species. 

Scotland’s Agri-environment Climate Scheme (AECS) opened for applications on 25 January. The window will close on 30 June – a longer period than usual to account for any potential delays caused by the coronavirus pandemic. 

See also: How to avoid pitfalls in Countryside Stewardship applications

More than £150m has been paid out to more than 2,500 farmers since the first round of the scheme in 2015.

Funding can be used for: 

  • Organic conversion and organic maintenance throughout Scotland
  • Slurry storage provision in priority water quality catchments
  • Management of priority bird species (corncrakes, corn buntings and farmland waders) in targeted areas 
  • Management of protected areas, such as sites of special scientific interest, for the benefit of any protected features, habitat or species.

A further funding package to incentivise landowners to create paths, or upgrade existing ones, will open on 1 March.

The Rural Payments and Services (RPS) agency urged farmers to read the full guidance on the changes in the scheme’s reach. 

Mary Munro, Strutt and Parker head of farming in Scotland, explained that funding options in the 2021 round were more limited than in previous years.

“Not only is the list of funding types restricted this time around, most of these are also targeted to certain locations, which will be frustrating for all those who are excluded,” said Ms Munro.

“However, for those who are eligible, the scheme may offer useful funding for work that will help to protect and enhance the environment.” 

How to apply

Application is via the RPS website.

Farmers with queries should contact their local RPS area office using the online contact list.