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Management of Coastal or Serpentine

Option closed to new applications


The aim of this Option is to encourage the growth of native heathland plants and small grassland herbs found on coastal heaths, on soils derived from serpentine and other ultra-basic rocks and in a small number of special interest heaths.

What this will achieve

As well as maintaining an important vegetation type this Option will benefit a range of Biodiversity Action Plan ( BAP) species. These include birds and animals such as the Linnet and the Natterjack Toad. Plants that will benefit include Eyebrights, Dune Gentian, Scottish Primrose, Scottish Scurvy Grass and Marsh Earwort. And insects that will benefit include the Great Yellow Bumblebee, the Northern Colletes Bee, Marsh Fritillary and Slender Scotch Burnet moth.

What you can do


On coastal, serpentine or special interest heath dominated by heath vegetation, you must:

  • Manage grazing levels to enable plants to flower and set seed in the summer to maintain a balance between the cover and vigour of the dwarf shrubs and fine grasses with broad-leaved herbs. The area must be sufficiently grazed over the autumn to remove rank growth and lightly dwarf shrubs.

On coastal, serpentine or special interest heath dominated by grass vegetation, you must:

  • Manage grazing levels in accordance with published guidance to ensure the sward is at its longest in the summer to allow plants to flower and set seed, and is shorter in the spring and autumn to allow grassland species to germinate and to remove rank growth.

For all heath types, you must

  • Exclude farm livestock from the area from 1 April until 31 August inclusive
  • Graze the site from 1 September until 30 November inclusive. The grazing level should not exceed 1.2 Livestock Units ( LU) per hectare during this period but should be enough to remove rank growth and lightly crop any dwarf shrubs. The aim is to create a balance between the cover and vigour of the dwarf shrubs and fine grasses with broad-leaved herbs
  • On grass dominated sites, you may graze the site from 1 December until 31 March inclusive but this is optional. It is not likely to be appropriate on sites with significant amounts of heath. Where grazing is appropriate during this period, the grazing level must not exceed 0.15 LU per hectare during this period except with the prior written agreement of the Scottish Ministers

Where these requirements would not reflect the specific biodiversity requirements of the site, you must:

  • Prepare and agree a grazing plan with Scottish Ministers. The plan will identify the plant communities that will be managed, the area that will be managed, the outcome that will be achieved and how it will be achieved, describing the livestock management and grazing regime. Evidence to support the proposed management must accompany the application, e.g. a reference to suitable advisory material produced by a recognised conservation organisation. The management plan may be varied in any year with the prior written agreement of the Scottish Ministers.

And for all sites, you must:

  • Adjust the grazing regime if necessary to make sure that coarser grasses do not shade out the desired plant species
  • Not burn the site without prior written agreement of the Scottish Ministers
  • Not apply fertiliser, lime, slurry or farmyard manure to the site.
  • Not apply pesticides to the managed area except with the prior written agreement of Scottish Ministers for activities such as spot treatment of scheduled weeds (i.e. creeping, spear or field thistle, curled or broadleaved dock and common ragwort) or non-native invasive species (i.e. Giant hogweed, Himalayan balsam, Rhododendron ponticum or Japanese knotweed).

A grazing plan is obligatory when management is for Scottish Primrose.

Who can apply (including geographical element)

All land managers are eligible to apply for this Option.

Eligibility criteria

Where the heath occupies only a small part or parts of the field or management unit, the whole field or management unit may be managed under this Option where SNH consider this would be beneficial to the features of the designated site. You must ensure that these area(s) of heath benefit from all of the above requirements.

You can enter the following areas under this Option:

  • Coastal heath - land bordering the sea containing heath or species-rich grassland where salt spray and exposure affect species composition and vegetation structure
  • Serpentine vegetation - unimproved land found in just a small number of locations with serpentine or other ultra-basic rocks. It is heath or grassland, often associated with rocky outcrops, containing species which can tolerate the unusual soils derived from these rocks. It is often found in very small patches, occupying only a small part of a management unit.
  • Special interest heaths - restricted to designated sites ( SSSIs, SACs or SPAs) or to sites SNH has confirmed to be of particular local importance, for example some of the dry heaths that occur at low altitudes in Orkney and unusual areas of upland heath which are species-rich or of other special interest, occurring in small isolated fragments within arable, pasture or woodland on enclosed land. Many of these sites will require summer grazing rather than autumn/winter grazing. All must therefore have a grazing plan that reflects the specific biodiversity requirements of the site.
  • Extensive mosaics of heath and grassland are not eligible under this Option.

Land receiving payments for similar management under other agri-environment schemes is not eligible under this Option.

Please see the Definitions of Land Types page for more details.

What costs could be supported

For a comprehensive list of Capital Items click here. Any costs claimed must be fully justified. The following are examples of what may be claimed:

When completing your Proposal, you can select the appropriate capital item(s) from the dropdown list of standard cost capital items for this Option.

In addition to the above capital items, financial support of up to 100% of eligible actual costs is available in respect of the following:

Please note that these capital items will not appear in the dropdown list of Standard Cost capital items for this Option and will need to be entered manually in the box for Actual Cost capital items. Only costs for the types of capital works listed above should be entered in the Actual Cost capital items box for this Option. Any other costs entered cannot be considered for funding.

To ensure value for money we require you to provide 2 competitive quotes for any capital items applied for which are based on actual cost. If, however, you are seeking grant support towards something so specialised it is only available through 1 source then we would accept 1 quote. Please see the guidance on quotes and estimates for more information.

Rate of support

This is a 5-year commitment. We will pay at the end of each year.

The annual payment rates are:

£77 per hectare per year up to 30 hectares, £44 per hectare per year for next 40 hectares and £1.30 per hectare per year thereafter.


The inspector will check the requirements (as detailed above under 'what you can do') of the Option are being met, by a visual assessment on the day of inspection.

Beneficiaries must comply with the requirements of cross compliance and the minimum requirements for fertiliser and plant protection products. You must also comply with the requirements to avoid damaging any features of historic or archaeological interest, and follow Scottish Ministers' guidance for the protection of such areas or features (detailed in links below).

The following is a brief overview of the inspection procedures, for a full explanation please see links below:

Inspectors will check:

  • Visual inspection for compliance with agreed grazing regime
  • Visual check to ensure no lime/fertiliser/ FYM/Slurry has been applied
  • Written agreement from Scottish Ministers for any burning within the site
  • Grazing plan if Scottish Primrose present
  • Claimed capital items have been completed to approved amounts and scheme standards
  • Pesticide records to ensure pesticides have not been applied to the site, except with prior written permission of Scottish Ministers

List of links to relevant technical guidance