£30m to help promote low carbon farming in Scotland

AECS was launched to promote land management practices in Scotland which benefit the natural environment
AECS was launched to promote land management practices in Scotland which benefit the natural environment

More than 600 Scottish farming and rural businesses with projects that protect the environment and mitigate the impact of climate change will share a £30m fund.

The Scottish government funding is part of the latest round of the Agri-Environment Climate Scheme (AECS) 2021.

It was launched to promote land management practices which protect Scotland’s natural heritage, improve water quality, manage flood risk and mitigate climate change.

In October 2021, the Rural Affairs Secretary Mairi Gougeon announced the extension of the scheme up to 2024 with a new round opening in each new calendar year.

Applications for the next round will open on 24 January, and farmers will be able to apply for support for conversion to and maintenance of organic land.

The 2021 round increases the area under conversion or maintenance support to 86,577ha, an increase of 15,482ha or 22% from 2022 onwards compared to 2021 levels.

Meanwhile, a suite of other measures as part of AECS are aimed at promoting low carbon farming and protecting the environment.

The climate scheme has provided almost 3,000 farmer and crofter applicants with around £244 million since it launched.

Ms Gougeon said the fund had helped nature be restored and enhanced through increased biodiversity, as well as improved soils and contributions to mitigating climate change.

“I’d like to thank those who have applied for the scheme and clearly understand the importance of doing what we can to mitigate climate change," she said.

"We see our land managers and world-class producers thriving, while backing our world-leading climate change agenda and our response to the biodiversity crisis.

"AECS continues to play an important role in meeting these commitments and it also supports the ambition of doubling the amount of land under organic management, set out in the Programme for Government 2021-22.

"I would encourage people to apply for the next round of the scheme to continue this work.”

NatureScot’s chief executive Francesca Osowska added that farmers and crofters played a 'vital role' in helping protect and restore nature in Scotland.

"These valuable projects will help support our vulnerable wildlife and habitats, improve soil health and water quality, reduce flood risks, increase organic farming and help improve public access in rural areas, among other environmental benefits.”