The Rural Stewardship Scheme
6 Supplementary Information
Photo: P&A Macdonald - SNH
The Environmental Audit
1.1 What does the Environmental Audit involve?
The Environmental Audit is, in effect, an inventory of all the wildlife habitats and features on your unit and an assessment of their current conservation interest. It will also include details of the habitats and features you wish to enter into the RSS and a brief description of your waste management policy. For the Audit to be carried out properly, it will be necessary for whoever is carrying it out to walk the unit to identify and examine habitats and features and to mark them on a map. Given the wide range of prescriptions available under the Rural Stewardship Scheme, two maps will be required: one, the Descriptive Map, to describe the habitats and features covered by the General Environmental Conditions and the other, the Management Map,
showing the sites and features subject
to payments under the Scheme.
1.2 Who can undertake the Audit?
If you are sufficiently knowledgeable about wildlife conservation, you can undertake the Audit yourself. Alternatively, you can, if you prefer, ask a professional adviser to carry out the Audit for you. It is entirely up to you to decide who to ask. The Department's only concern is that the Audit should be carried out properly and reflect accurately the situation on your unit.
1.3 Can I recover the cost?
Yes. Provided the Audit has been carried out to a satisfactory standard and you apply to join the RSS, SEERAD will pay:
- For an Audit prepared by a professional adviser:
For a small unit (10 hectares or less): 75% of the cost, subject to a minimum payment of 150 and a maximum of 225. For other units (greater than 10 hectares in extent): 50% of the cost up to a maximum payment of 300. A receipted invoice to support your claim must accompany your application to the Scheme.
- For an Audit carried out by the applicant, SEERAD will pay a fixed sum of 100 in recognition of the time involved.
- If you have already had a survey of the nature conservation interest on your unit carried out (e.g. under the FWAG Landwise initiative), SEERAD will pay 100 in recognition of the cost involved in translating the survey details into the format required for the RSS Environmental Audit.
The cost used to calculate the amount to be reimbursed will normally exclude VAT, unless your business is not registered for VAT.
1.4 Why is the Audit an essential requirement of the Scheme?
The purpose of the Environmental Audit is to encourage a structured and objective independent analysis of the wildlife and other conservation opportunities on the unit. This will provide a sound basis to help ensure that the funds available are used to obtain the maximum possible conservation benefit. In addition, the Audit will be a useful tool for the future management and development of the unit.
An extract showing an example of a Descriptive Map, a Management Map and completed map keys is provided below. This should be used as a guide when completing the map keys and maps that form part of your Audit.
Example Descriptive Map and Key
Example Management Map and Key
Example Management Map and Key
Example Management Map and Key
The Moorland Management Plan
2.1 Is a Moorland Management Plan required in all cases?
No. It is only required if you wish to undertake any of the Moorland Management Options. Otherwise, the moorland is simply shown on the Audit map along with other habitats not being managed under a RSS option.
2.2 What does the Moorland Management Plan involve?
The Moorland Management Plan comprises two elements: a report on the condition and existing management of all the moorland on your unit, including stocking levels, and proposals for changes to the management, including options for which RSS funding is to be sought.
2.3 Who can prepare the Moorland Management Plan?
This is up to you, but in the normal course of events, it is expected that a suitably qualified professional adviser will prepare the plan. You are free to decide whom to ask. SEERAD's only concern is that the Moorland Management Plan should be properly prepared and reflect accurately the situation on your unit.
2.4 Is there any restriction on the amount of moorland the Plan must cover?
There is no upper limit. However, the Plan must cover at least ten hectares of moorland.
2.5 Can I get help with the cost?
Yes, provided the Plan has been properly prepared, that you apply to join the RSS and propose to adopt at least one of the Moorland options (described in Part 3 of this Booklet), SEERAD will make a payment of up to 500 towards the cost of the Plan. The payment you receive will be 1 for every hectare of moorland included in the Plan, subject to a minimum payment of 50 and a maximum of 500. The maximum payment increases to 600 when the MMP applies to Common Grazings. It is a condition of the payment that you implement the Plan in its entirety.
Prescriptions for Small Units
3.1 Conservation Management Plan with Special Measures for Small Units
3.1.1 When is a Conservation Plan with Special Measures required?
This Special Measures Plan will be required if you are adopting either of the RSS Small Units options: Conservation Management Plan with Special Measures for Small Units and Retention or Introduction of Cattle of Native or Traditional Breed(s). If you are undertaking to retain cows of native or traditional breed(s) or introduce them to your business under the Scheme, you must also adopt the other Small Units prescription.
3.1.2 What does the Conservation Management Plan with Special Measures involve?
The Conservation Management Plan with Special Measures goes further than the Environmental Audit. The Environmental Audit will identify all of the habitats and features that occur on the unit or units within your business and specify those that are to be managed under the Scheme. The Conservation Management Plan with Special Measures, Section I of the Prescriptions for Small Units, gathers details of how you propose to manage all of the habitats and features identified on the EA Descriptive Map, in order to encourage the development of a mosaic of habitats across the unit or units and to enhance wildlife diversity by doing so. You are also asked to state what benefits to these habitats, species and landscape features will result by undertaking the measures described in this Plan.
3.2 Retention or Introduction of Cattle of Native or Traditional Breed(s)
3.2.1 How do I apply for this measure?
You must complete Section II of the Prescriptions for Small Units application form. You are asked to state the number of the breeding cows of native or traditional Scottish breed(s) in your herd on the day prior to submission of your application and to state the number of breeding cows of traditional or native breed(s) (if any) you are undertaking to introduce to the unit or units within your business by the end of the first plan year.
3.2.2 What undertakings are involved when I adopt this measure?
If your business supports two or more breeding cows of traditional or native breed(s) on entry into the RSS, you must undertake to retain at least the same number of these animals in your herd for the lifetime of the Plan.
If, on application to join the Scheme, you either do not have a herd of breeding cows or the existing herd has only one or no dams of either purebred or first cross native or traditional stock, you will be required to ensure that your business runs two or more breeding cows of traditional or native breed(s) by the end of the first plan year. In order to be considered a breeding cow, the cow must form part of a herd either used for rearing calves for meat production or used for milk production and have borne a calf.