Following the UK Government’s welcome commitment from several weeks ago that it would honour agri-environment, forestry and rural development projects that are agreed before the UK leaves the EU, the Scottish Government has now announced that it will be passing on that commitment in full.
Previously the UK Government had only committed to support projects that were agreed prior to the Autumn Statement, which meant there was great uncertainty about the future of rural funding to 2020. This commitment means that the SRDP will continue to run as planned for the next few years and that the UK government will still honour payments even if they extend beyond the date of Brexit.
In response, Andrew Midgley, Projects and Research Manager, said: “This is very welcome news. We were particularly concerned that rural funding should not go over some sort of cliff-edge. Continuity and stability is very important to many rural industries, especially farming and forestry, and so this decision at least provides a degree of certainty over the medium term”.
“What we need now is for the Scottish Government to turn its attention to the future and what rural policy might look like after we leave the EU. We need to learn the lessons from the recent past in terms of how long it can take to develop agricultural and rural policy and the support systems that are needed to help deliver it. That means that we need the government to be looking forward and engaging with stakeholders right now so that we do everything we can to avoid a future cliff edge in support to farming and rural businesses.”