The Rural Affairs Cabinet Secretary has confirmed that because of EU delays in approving the new SRDP, and the resulting clash with the SAF window, the Forestry Grant Scheme and Agri-Environment Climate Scheme (AECS) will now open on Monday March 30, 2015.
AECS applications will be accepted until Friday June 12, 2015, while the Forestry Grant Scheme has no closing date.
Mr Lochhead said:
“I have given careful consideration to industry requests for a later closing date for AECS applications and - in recognition of the difficult situation created by the clash with the 2015 SAF - I have decided to postpone this year’s AECS application window by two weeks. The AECS window will now open at the end of this month and close in June, four weeks after the SAF window. This will give farmers, crofters and other land managers more time to prepare their applications using the guidance the Scottish Government has already published. It would not be possible to have the AECS window closing any later than mid-June for applications to be processed and approved in time for contracts starting on January 1, 2016.
“The continued delay in having our new SRDP approved by Europe is frustrating, but from 2016 we will be able to design SRDP application windows which are convenient for all concerned.”