Rural Economy Secretary Fergus Ewing has announced action to streamline the process for forestry grant payments. He has also announced a review of the grants scheme to encourage more small scale landowners to take up grants.
The measures are designed to provide more stability and simplicity for the forestry and farming sectors and signal the approach Scottish Ministers want to take to future rural policy.
The initiatives will involve expert input from relevant stakeholders.
Announcing the two initiatives during a debate in the Scottish Parliament on Future Rural Policy and Support in Scotland today, Mr Ewing said:
“We may not have the certainty nor clarity we need about what our future holds. Yet, I am determined to ensure that we make the future happen and the plan I have developed for the next five years seeks to provide as much stability as we can provide, particularly for forestry which is a long term investment.
“Beyond 2021, we will maintain the current landscape of schemes, including the forestry grant scheme, but with changes to simplify them.
“Already opportunities have been identified to streamline processes and improve them.
“So I have announced two new initiatives today to review the current process for forestry grant applications in order to streamline and simplify them and also to review the Forestry Grant Scheme to enable more small landowners more access to support to plant trees and create woodland.
“Forestry is a key contributor to Scotland’s rural economy and I want that to continue. I stress that this review will not consider any decision on the current level of financial support, and I look forward to working closely with the forestry sector throughout 2019 so that it can continue to contribute to our shared national endeavour of planting more trees and creating more woodlands and forests in Scotland.”
1. The Forestry Commission Scotland Customer Reps Group, which involves key forestry interests, will explore ways to boost uptake grants to encourage small scale woodlands.
2. The CAP Simplification Taskforce, which was previously announced by Mr Ewing, will carry out a rapid review of the process for making forestry Annual Recurrent Payments claimed through the SAF (Single Application Form).