Agri-Environment Deadline Looming for Scottish Farmers

Union calls for application and evidence deadlines to be extended

As things stand, Scottish farmers have until tomorrow (20 April) to submit their agri-environment climate scheme (AECS) applications.

However, a computer system failure over the weekend has led to NFU Scotland requesting that the deadline for submitting AECS applications be extended to Monday 25 April.

A previous request from NFUS to further extend the AECS application deadline beyond tomorrow (20 April) had been rejected by Scottish Government but with the system having been unavailable for two days at this late stage in the process, the Union believes a short extension should be granted.

As well as extending the application deadline to next week, the Union believes that there remains a justifiable case for the deadline for submitting supporting evidence for applications – currently set at 16 May – to be extended to the end of June.

At the moment, the timetable for pulling together essential supporting documentation for AECS applications clashes with the deadline for submitting Single Application Forms (SAF) for 2016.  Successfully completing a SAF online is necessary if a farm business is to secure support from the new CAP schemes.

NFU Scotland’s President Allan Bowie said: “Given the disruption to AECS applications at the weekend, we believe a short extension in the deadline is entirely appropriate before people’s attention rightly turns to getting their SAF form completed.

“Given the extreme difficulties encountered with the online application system for SAF 2015, every farmer’s focus from now until 16 May will rightly be on getting their SAF 2016 filed.  

“Extending the deadline for supporting documentation to the end of June would avoid diverting necessary attention from meeting SAF deadlines and would allow more effective assessment of habitats to underpin better applications. If effective and meaningful AECS applications are going to deliver the desired environmental outcomes, then the supporting documentation must be given the best chance to be properly prepared.

 “Longer term, NFUS has always supported a continuous application and approval process.  Such an approach would avoid this annual single AECS application window clashing on an annual basis with SAF application.

“Scottish Government should revert to the original concept of an on-going application process to avoid approval bottlenecks and allow the most effective, targeted proposals the chance to deliver what is best for the environment and ensure the best value for limited rural development money.”  


Contact Bob Carruth on 0131 472 4006

Date Published:

News Article No.: 101/16

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