Agri-Environment Climate Scheme opens for 2018 applications

The scheme is open for applications until April

Farmers looking for funding to help carry out projects that will benefit the environment have been given the green light to apply for support in the latest round of the Agri-Environment Climate Scheme.

The application window will run for 12 weeks until April 13, with a further closing date of May 31 for collaborative applications for five or more businesses.

The scheme is jointly funded by the Scottish Government and the EU, and has already committed more than £100million to 2,090 businesses since its launch in 2014.

Environment Secretary Roseanna Cunningham said the scheme supported the government’s efforts to protect and enhance the environment by promoting environmentally-friendly land management practices.

She added: “I would therefore encourage all farmers, crofters and land managers to apply for support under the scheme, and explore how they can benefit and realise the environmental and economic potential of low carbon, environmentally-friendly practices.”

The Rural Payments and Inspections Division administers the scheme alongside Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) whose chairman Mike Cantlay said there were diverse opportunities for funding around the restoration of lowland raised bogs, supporting the management of protected sites, including machair and coastal habitats as well as protecting the habitat for wildlife including the capercaillie, corncrake and chough.

He said: “It’s great that more farmers, crofters and land managers have the opportunity to apply for funding to carry out projects that will help our environment.

“We particularly welcome the support it offers them to help manage their land for wildlife, as well as helping to manage the risk of flooding. If you’ve got a proposal for a protected site, such as a Site of Special Scientific Interest, come and talk to us and we will provide advice before you submit your application.”

NFU Scotland deputy director of policy, Andrew Bauer, said Scottish farmers and crofters already delivered a huge amount of public goods and encouraged farmers to apply to start the application process as soon as possible.

Further announcements will follow about the next round of the Improving Public Access Scheme, which is aimed at building or improving paths that encourage enjoyment and appreciation of Scotland’s landscapes and nature.