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CAP Must Recognise Scotland's Vast Existing EFA NFUS Tells EU Environment Commissioner

Scotland's vast areas of soft features must be allowed to count as Environmental Focus Areas under the new CAP says NFUS President Nigel Miller.

Mr. Miller made his assertion directly to the EU’s Environment Commissioner, Janez Potocnik, at a high level briefing at the Royal Highland Show yesterday (Thursday 20 June). The Commissioner would not commit to the Union President's request, however, citing his scepticism of flexibility in CAP rules being used as a mask to continue the status quo.

The Commissioner did acknowledge Scotland's excellent track record on General Binding Rules (GBRs), stating that the country's work in this area is an EU exemplar.

Speaking after the meeting, NFU Scotland's President, Nigel Miller said:

"With environmental and budgetary influence on the CAP greater than ever, Commissioner Potocnik must have had a strong guiding hand in the drafting and evolution of the new CAP. It is great to hear the Commissioner's endorsement of Scottish practices such as GBRs, however, he was disappointingly unwilling to be moved so far as to recognise the vast tracts of Scottish land which are environmentally high quality but have limited productive potential.

"This is highly frustrating as it jeopardises crucial farming businesses in these areas and puts pressure on Scotland's productive areas, which are marginal compared to other EU Member states.

"He is clearly guided by the global picture: a growing population; the need to protect our finite natural resources; the drive of technology, and unnecessary waste in the production and consumption of food.

"These are indisputably correct principles, however, I firmly believe that with considered lenience, and a sensitive mapping system, Scotland can uphold a strong production base that is fully integrated with excellent environmental practices.

"The Commissioner was unwilling to commit too far beyond the current round of CAP reform as his term will cease next year. His stark evaluation of the potential to reduce red tape - that 'simplification is simply fiction' - means that the risk of restrictive legislation is not yet gone. It is clear that where such limitations exist to profitable production in an environmentally sensitive manner, we shall have to continue to fight hard at Scottish, UK and EU levels to minimise them."

Ends

Contact Sarah Anderson on 0131 472 4108

Date Published:

News Article No.: 85/13


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