Wednesday, 21 September 2011

Rural and Environment - Spending Review

Opportunities to make our rural communities even stronger and increase their already significant contribution to economic growth is our main focus for the next three years said Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs and Environment Richard Lochhead today.

Mr Lochhead said rural communities will continue to play a key role in rebuilding our economy and the budget published today will enable us to grow the rural economy through community empowerment; improving rural connectivity, building our world class food and drink industry and enhancing our natural resources as well as supporting renewables and tackling climate change.

Money from Europe will be key to providing financial support to our rural economy through payments to farmers, fishermen and land managers. We have continued to invest in the Scotland Rural Development Programme (SRDP) and the European Fisheries Fund (EFF).

Other key elements of the spending review for Rural Affairs and Environment include:
  • more than doubling the support for our growing food and drink industry, delivering £14m of support over the next three years
  • establishing a Next Generation Digital Fund to support the roll-out of next generation broadband across Scotland, with a particular focus on rural and remote areas;
  • investing to create the framework required for the sustainable economic development of Scotland's offshore wind and marine renewables sector
  • empowering communities through a range of measures, including the Climate Challenge Fund and the creation of a new land fund to support community land purchase
  • supporting through the Zero Waste budget, a number of programmes including waste prevention and minimisation; reuse and recycle awareness; and support for local authorities to deliver their municipal waste targets
  • investing through the European Fisheries Fund in order to deliver our commitment to assist with capital investment, increasing competitiveness in the aquaculture, fishing and fish processing industries, and to promote a resilient fleet structure
  • working actively to reform the Common Fisheries Policy and the post-2014 European Marine and Fisheries Fund
  • continuing to negotiate on the EU budget for 2014-2020 and ensure we get a fair deal for Scottish farmers on the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) and related payments
  • maintaining our investment in flood protection and our programme of work to implement the Flood Risk Management (Scotland) Act 2009. We will continue to invest in ensuring that we have clean air and water and the portfolio will spend £5.2 million on natural assets and flooding in 2012-13
  • aiming to increase woodland planting to 10,000 hectares per year. The government will invest £65.5 million n the Forestry Commission and Forest Enterprise in 2012-13
  • protecting LFASS payments, with more than £65m per year going to support farming in less favoured areas.
Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs and Environment Richard Lochhead said:

"This budget will help our rural communities prosper by making the most of our rich natural resources and safeguarding our precious environment.

"By promoting rural connectivity through rolling out next generation broadband and supporting our fishermen and farmers who help underpin a successful food and drink industry - which is receiving record support - our rural economy will reap the benefits. We are also helping our communities to take more control of their own futures through our new land fund and Climate Challenge Fund.

"We have prioritised areas where we believe new and additional spending will have the most positive impact. Where we have been forced to make savings, due to the cuts imposed on us by Westminster, we have chosen to do so in areas where spending is not already committed, therefore minimising the impact on people and businesses.

"We have continued to invest in areas such as the Scotland Rural Development Programme (SRDP) and the European Fisheries Fund (EFF) and we have used the flexibility available, and increased EU match-funding, to ensure spending in these key areas is kept at a high level.

"We will work tirelessly in Europe to ensure Scotland gets the best deal in Europe through the CAP and CFP reforms soon to be negotiated. I fully recognise public subsidies, such as the single farm payment, are absolutely crucial to the future of our farming sector and are often the mainstay of fragile rural communities

"The budget also supports the priority work of key agencies who work to protect Scotland's valuable natural heritage, make best use of our land and protect and improve our environment. But they will continue to deliver their priorities under tighter than usual financial constraints as the Westminster cuts filter through and affect their budgets too

"We also remain committed to tackling climate change and will build on the progress we have made to cutting emissions by 42 per cent by 2020 through investing in renewables, energy efficiency, transport measures, agriculture, forestry, waste and resource management and more to ensure that our annual emissions targets are met.

"These are tough times for us all and we have been forced to make tough choices. But I am confident we have maintained our focus on priority areas and have delivered a budget that will continue to enable rural Scotland and our environment to flourish."
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