In May 2013 the Scottish Government launched a public consultation to gather views on its initial proposals for changes to the 2014-2020 Scotland Rural Development Programme (SRDP). The consultation received 151 written submissions from 43 individuals (28%) and 108 organisations / groups (72%).
Overall, respondents were broadly in agreement with the direction of travel set out in the consultation document, although, it was widely commented on that insufficient information was available in the consultation document to form an opinion on particular proposals, or agreement was "in principle only" till more detail emerged and concerns expressed were taken into account. There was a clear desire for the SRDP to be simpler and more accessible, and for some respondents, this principle seemed to be more important than the specifics of how a scheme was delivered. Respondents were also keen that duplication of funding should be avoided.
Key cross-cutting themes included: ensuring SRDP alignment with other national (and EU) policies and programmes; maximising the funds available for the programme; schemes that emphasise public good over commercial interests, focus on agreed national priority outcomes, enable local priorities to be taken into account, are adequately resourced and not overly rigid. Respondents voiced a wide range of concerns in relation to the administration of the programme. These concerns largely reflected respondents’ experiences with the current SRDP with frequent calls for the Scottish Government to implement the findings from the Mid Term Evaluation of SRDP 2007–2013.
Respondents were asked to identify their priorities for investment in the new SRDP by selecting from a list of specific investment articles (i.e. the article numbers from European legislation). There was variation between groups in the articles that they prioritised, and a tendency to give the highest priority to articles related to their own interests or perspectives. However, across all respondents, there appeared to be consistent support for six investment articles and consistently little support for five others.
In conclusion, the consultation has revealed endorsement of the direction of travel for the development of SDRP 2014–2020, especially in relation to the simplification and streamlining of the programme. However, given the absence of detail about the implementation arrangements, at this stage the endorsement is in principle only.