CHAPTER 14: RURAL AFFAIRS AND THE ENVIRONMENT
The Rural Affairs and Environment portfolio is responsible for government policy, development and delivery of programmes addressing rural, marine, food and environmental issues.
The Rural Affairs and the Environment portfolio has responsibility for:
- maintaining clean air and safe drinking water;
- protecting communities from flooding, climate change and other environmental challenges;
- minimising the amount of waste produced by society, maximising recycling and ensuring the proper disposal of what remains;
- keeping rivers, lochs and beaches pollution free to acceptable levels;
- securing for the future well managed landscapes and biodiversity which people can enjoy and businesses can capitalise on;
- underpinning competitive agriculture, fisheries and forestry businesses, and encouraging other rural development that is essential for the health and wealth of local economies and communities; and
- ensuring that all domestic and farm animals in Scotland are well treated and healthy, and that contingency plans are in place for the effective management in Scotland of animal disease outbreaks.
These programmes will ensure that our natural resources are used and managed for current and future generations as a valuable asset - a natural infastructure that Scotland's farming, fishing and forestry businesses can thrive in and which underpins tourism, recreation and food industries.
Our processes to secure proper waste management, clean air and safe drinking water are important for a healthier Scotland, as is our investment in access to the countryside and greenspace in our communities.
Through our sponsored bodies and main research providers, our investment in regulatory science and strategic research makes a significant contribution to a smarter Scotland.
SUMMARY OF KEY SPENDING PRIORITIES FOR RURAL AFFAIRS AND THE ENVIRONMENT PORTFOLIO
The Rural Affairs and Environment portfolio is responsible for over £600 million of public spending a year and is also responsible for acting as the conduit for over £400 million from the EU, mainly under the Common Agricultural Policy, in the shape of payments to Scotland's 25,000 farmers and 8,000 active crofters.
From 2008-09 to 2010-11 the priorities for the Rural Affairs and the Environment portfolio are briefly described below. More detail about spending plans is given in table 14.01 and chapter 24. Chapters 17 and 27 set out the local government responsibilities for delivering national priorities and services relating to the portfolio, for example flood prevention and waste management.
Supporting rural development
£182.4m/£191.1m/£192.7m to deliver the Scotland Rural Development Programme ( SRDP). This is the Scottish Government's main programme for supporting rural development. It is worth £1.6 billion over 2007-13, 2 taking European Union money into account. The key targets for the programme are aligned with the national policy objectives of a wealthier and fairer, smarter, healthier, safer and stronger, and greener Scotland, reflecting regional and local needs.
The SRDP's focus is on improving rural business viability and competitiveness, water quality, climate change, landscape and biodiversity and encouraging thriving rural communities. This will be achieved through:
- improving the competitiveness of the agriculture and forestry sectors through investment in businesses, increasing the sustainability of local, rural economies;
- maintaining and improving the quality of the environment and countryside through investment in land management including afforestation, supporting agri-environment projects and upgrading rural heritage;
- broadening the economic base of the countryside and reducing dependence on farm subsidies through diversification of rural businesses; and
- encouraging community led activity through funding community based economic, environmental and diversification projects.
Consistency and coherence in delivery of the programme will be achieved through improving integration in the service delivery of the main partners - Scottish Natural Heritage, Forestry Commission, Scottish Environment Protection Agency and the Scottish Government.
- £455 million annually of EU support to farmers and crofters is also delivered through Single Farm Payment under the EU Common Agricultural Policy ( CAP). This level of support is likely to come under increasing pressure as time goes on and reform of EU finances, and of the CAP, becomes more of an issue. The SRDP will assist the transition as Scotland adjusts to a reformed world for the CAP;
- £81.3m/£84.2m/£86.4m for Scottish Natural Heritage, the National Park Authorities and the Deer Commission for Scotland to support rural development through sustainable management, access to, and enjoyment of our natural resources and countryside;
- £7.3m/£7.4m/£7.5m of specific support for crofting, including through the Crofters Commission; and
- the Scottish Government will also continue to promote rural development through activities relating to animal health and welfare, and through veterinary and advisory services.
Our priorities are to:
- provide additional funding for increased afforestation and increased quality of woodlands in the private sector through Rural Development Contracts, as part of the SRDP;
- increase the economic contribution from Scotland's timber and forest resource;
- increase forestry's contribution to urban regeneration and community development;
- raise an additional £15 million a year from strategic sales of the national forest estate to reinvest in woodland creation; and
- bring designated woodland sites, habitats and species into favourable condition.
Improving environmental quality
On environmental quality we are looking to establish a new partnership with local authorities and other delivery bodies to improve waste management, meet our European obligations and move Scotland towards a zero waste society. We want to see Scotland achieve recycling levels of other European countries that have made most progress to date. We estimate that 40 per cent of municipal waste will need to be recycled to meet our landfill diversion target for 2010. We will also take initiatives to minimise both domestic and commercial waste.
Working towards this goal, we will provide an extra £13.1m/£2.8m/£3.9m to enable the Scottish Environment Protection Agency to deliver a cleaner land, water and air environment through its pollution programmes, including support in 2008-09 for new premises in Aberdeen and for a new flood warning system.
We will deal responsibly with the radioactive waste produced in Scotland, giving due regard to the protection of people and the environment and the views of communities.
We will support the development of a flood warning system. We are developing a vision for river basin management planning, in line with European Union requirements. This will provide for an integrated ecosystem approach to how we handle the water resources for the good of people and wildlife within the major water catchment zones in Scotland. We will strive to improve on the very high standard of drinking water by ensuring that the regulatory regime provides for appropriate monitoring of water quality. We will also continue to improve the standards of our bathing waters around the coasts of Scotland.
Protecting our marine environment
£11.3m/£16.7m/£16.5m of new money will be made available for the fisheries research and protection agencies to support the management arrangements for Scotland's marine environment. The funding will also ensure that the new fish health laboratory facilities in Aberdeen are completed.
We are committed to Scottish marine legislation to achieve better protection for the marine environment and more streamlined regulation of the use of the sea. We will also streamline the marine delivery bodies, through the establishment of a Scottish Marine Management Partnership, to ensure joint working of existing marine related organisations.
We will further improve the implementation of fisheries and marine management to ensure continued improvement in our fish stocks, by:
- securing a stronger voice for Scotland in international fisheries negotiations to help our industry be sustainable, profitable and well managed;
- securing an improved EU Cod Recovery Plan, to achieve recovery in cod stocks for our long-term benefit, whilst maintaining our mixed fisheries in the short term;
- improving the management of Scotland's inshore fisheries and developing a Scottish quota management system;
- developing and implementing a Scottish Food Policy to increase the consumption of affordable, nutritious, local Scottish food;
- helping Scotland's aquaculture industry to develop business opportunities, and streamlining environmental regulations; and
- implementing a new Strategy for Scotland's Freshwater Fisheries, leading to new legislation in the medium term.
Rural and environmental research and analysis
We will provide approximately £70 million per year for strategic and immediate research to underpin the work of environmental and rural policymakers and practitioners.
In research and science, we will:
- invest on average nearly £9 million each year in capital projects to support rural environment and food research education; and
- spend an additional £2 million a year by 2010-11 in enhancing research on adaptation to climate change.
Table 14.01 Spending Plans 2008-11
2008-09 Draft Budget £m
2009-10 Plans £m
2010-11 Plans £m
EUCAP support for farmers
Rural Development and other services
Research, analysis and other services
Marine and fisheries
Environment Protection, Sustainable Development and Climate Change
Forestry Commission Scotland
Forest Enterprise Scotland