Scottish Land & Estates is extremely concerned that the Scottish Government has defined Sporting Estates so broadly that it will hit a broad swath of farming and estate businesses and is calling for a rethink.
The Direct Payments Regulation, which underpins the forthcoming reform of CAP support, seeks to ensure that farm support only goes to active farmers and it does so by requiring that agricultural activities are carried out and by excluding some types of potential recipient that are thought to be illegitimate claimants (such as airports and sports grounds).
The regulation also gives Member States discretion to add, on the basis of objective and non-discriminatory criteria, other similar non-agricultural businesses or activities to this, so-called, Negative List. In June, Richard Lochhead, Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs, announced his intention to add ‘Sporting Estates’ to the Negative List.
The definition that has been provided to the European Commission describes non-agricultural Sporting Estates as businesses where:
- the applicant is undertaking any of the following activities: shooting, fishing or stalking; and
- where most of the applicant’s income is not derived from an agricultural business/agricultural activity.
- If the potential claimant fails this two part test, the Scottish Government will judge the claimant to be ineligible for direct support.
Andrew Midgley, Head of Policy, said: “Scottish Land & Estates is extremely concerned about this definition. Scottish Land & Estates acknowledges that direct support is intended to support farming and that it should only go to active farmers. Scottish Land & Estates also acknowledges that in putting Sporting Estates on the Negative List the Scottish Government’s intention is to ensure that large amounts of farm support are not activated on land that is not farmed. However, Scottish Land & Estates believes that the proposed definition is poorly targeted, and so likely to catch many people unintentionally, and that it is likely to lead to iniquitous situations and anomalies across the country.
“As such, Scottish Land & Estates will be calling upon the Cabinet Secretary to either refine the definition so that it only affects those very few cases where the government has concerns, or remove Sporting Estates from the Negative List. Scottish Land & Estates will also be seeking clarification from the European Commission on what objective and non-discriminatory criteria the Scottish Government used to decide to add sporting estates to the list”.
A Briefing Paper for members is available below.