New AECS funding round announced

River with trees and field
Norette Ferns

A new funding round for the Agri-Environmental Climate Scheme (AECS) has been announced by Environment Secretary Roseanna Cunningham at the Royal Highland Show.

Agri-Environment, Diffuse Pollution and Organic schemes will open in January 2018, with a round for Improving Public Access expected to open in March.

AECS is part of the Scottish Rural Development Programme (SRDP). The fund supports environmentally-friendly land management practices to protect and enhance Scotland’s natural heritage and help agricultural businesses adapt to climate change.

A total of £99 million has already been committed since 2015, supporting 1,431 businesses. The 2017 application round is currently being assessed across the country, with an expected value of £58 million, supporting over 960 further rural businesses.

Environment Secretary Roseanna Cunningham said:

"I am pleased to confirm that we will be accepting new applications for the Agri-Environmental Climate Scheme from January.

"AECS supports a range of measures which will create a greener and more prosperous environment, including improving water quality, managing flood risk and protecting our iconic species and habitats.

"Crucially, it also supports the aims of our Climate Change Plan by reducing greenhouse gas emissions from farming.

"I would encourage all farmers, crofters and land managers to explore how they can benefit from AECS and realise the environmental and economic benefits of low carbon farming.

"I am aware that a hard Brexit would heavily impact sections of Scottish agriculture, including exposing the sector to both high tariffs and loss of subsidy support. I can confirm that any payments made under the AECS scheme will be honoured for the full five years.

The scheme is jointly funded by the Scottish Government and the European Union, with any new contracts guaranteed for the full five year term.

Visit the Rural Payments and Services website for more information about AECS.