A call for Scottish farmers to boycott payment of water abstraction licence charges was rejected by NFU Scotland leaders at the Union’s council meeting in Kinross on Wednesday (7 November).
But, while not condoning non-payment, NFUS president Jim McLaren was clearly exasperated with the Scottish Environmental Protection Agency on the issue.
The NFUS had been contacted by SEPA this week, he explained, saying bills for water abstraction licence payments will be issued to farmers next week. They will average around £300 each.
But, despite having a target of 800 licence-holders to inspect this year, SEPA has only carried out 30 inspections.
“We will continue the dialogue with SEPA but, aside from the fact it has been a wet season, I fundamentally disagree with the level of charge they are looking for, given the input they have and the level of environmental risk attached to the activities that are being licensed,” said Mr McLaren.
“An organisation which has undertaken to inspect 800 of 1700 licensed premises in the previous 18 months and only managed to go to see 30 does not strike me as one that should be receiving a second payment. We will be fighting very hard on this,” he added.
- NFUS is stepping up its membership recruitment campaign with the appointment of three new regional officers. The Union has attracted 400 new members this year from a variety of sectors and geographical areas. This brings its total to around 8500 members, accounting for half of Scotland’s farmers and 70-80% of total productivity.