Scotland’s 2021 Agri-Environment Scheme Opens to Applications

Level of funding and future for AECS remains unclear

Scotland’s 2021 Agri-Environment Climate Scheme (AECS) opened for applications today (25 January).

Following a concerted effort by NFU Scotland and other stakeholders, Scottish Government confirmed in late December that AECS would open today albeit on a limited basis and without detail on what funding is to be made available.

The Union has called for Scottish Government to extend AECS funding in this week’s budget, which is due to be published on Thursday.

The restricted round of AECS has opened for new applications from now until 30 June 2021 and the Union urges members to consider applying.  This new funding round will focus on designated sites, organics, management supporting farmland waders, corn buntings and corncrakes, slurry stores and improving public access.

NFU Scotland President Andrew McCornick said: “While the projects to be supported are known, the level of support for the scheme going forward remains unclear. This is a Pillar Two Rural Development Scheme traditionally co-financed by both Europe and Scottish Government.   

“It is critical that funding for AECS continues and until such time as a new rural policy for Scotland is developed and implemented. AECS currently requires in the region of £40 million per year – a relatively small investment that yields a big return in Scotland’s interest.

“Failure to support AECS in the next few years may result in existing contracts ending year on year from 2022 onwards and a very large area of land falling out of environmental management.

“Decisions on the future of agri-environment schemes from 2021 and beyond must be a priority. Farmers, crofters and their advisors need certainty and time to prepare and plan for applications with confidence so that they can deliver on high quality food production whilst meeting the challenges of biodiversity and climate change head on.

“We will be looking for a clear commitment on AECS from the Scottish Government in this week’s budget announcement.”  

Notes for editors


Contact Bob Carruth on 0131 472 4006

Author: Bob Carruth

Date Published:

News Article No.: 10/21

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