NFU Scotland slammed proposals from Scotland’s environmental body to significantly increase many of its charges next year. According to the NFU, the Environmental Regulation (Scotland) Charging Scheme increases go way beyond inflation rates and include 596 per cent increases in the charge for a technical variation to a Pollution Prevention Control (PPC) permit and an overall 81 per cent increase in large PPC permits, therefore affecting businesses which operate within the pig and poultry sectors. Growers will see their water abstraction licences increase by some 20 per cent, something that the union believes should be withdrawn.
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In addition to the proposed price hikes in Scotland, the NFU has also criticised Defra as it announced that it will not be allowing ‘dual use’ for mid-tier environmental stewardship scheme applicants this year. The practice of dual use is whereby the same parcel of land can be used where there are different claimants for agri-environmental schemes and Basic Payment Scheme. An example of mid-tier environmental schemes under the Countryside Stewardship schemes includes reducing diffuse water pollution or improving the farmed environment for farmland birds and pollinators.
According to NFU Vice President Guy Smith, because Defra has only just announced its decision on this years applications, applications for mid-tier schemes have only eight days to change their applications and the resulting confusion will not encourage farmers to put applications in this year. The mid-tier application window closes on 30 September for agreements to start on 1 January.