The Scottish Government has announced a new funding package of £5 million to help farmers and crofters who have been affected by recent flooding. The funding will be available from early 2024 and will cover up to 80% of the costs of restoring damaged agricultural land and infrastructure.
Severe weather impacts agriculture
Scotland has experienced several episodes of heavy rainfall and flooding in the past few months, which have caused significant damage to farmland, crops, livestock, buildings and roads. According to the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA), more than 100 flood warnings and alerts were issued across the country in November 2023 alone.
The Scottish Government has been working closely with the National Farmers Union Scotland (NFUS) and other stakeholders to assess the extent of the damage and provide support to the affected communities. The Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs and Islands, Mairi Gougeon, said that the flooding had been “devastating” for many farmers and crofters, and that the new funding package was a “vital lifeline” for them.
Eligibility and application process
The funding will be administered by the Rural Payments and Inspections Division (RPID) of the Scottish Government, and will be open to farmers and crofters who have suffered flood damage to their agricultural land and infrastructure since 1 September 2023. The eligible costs include:
- Repairing or replacing fences, gates, walls, bridges, culverts and drainage systems
- Reinstating field boundaries, access tracks and farm roads
- Removing debris, silt and gravel from fields and ditches
- Reseeding or replanting grassland and crops
- Restoring soil structure and fertility
- Replacing lost or damaged livestock
The funding will cover up to 80% of the eligible costs, up to a maximum of £20,000 per business. Applicants will need to provide evidence of the flood damage, such as photographs, invoices, receipts and quotes, and will be subject to inspection by RPID staff. The application window will open in early 2024 and will run for six months. The Scottish Government will publish further details and guidance on its website in due course.
Positive response from the industry
The announcement of the funding package has been welcomed by the NFUS and other industry representatives, who have praised the Scottish Government for its swift and generous response. The NFUS President, Martin Kennedy, said that the funding was “a huge relief” for the affected farmers and crofters, and that it would help them to “get back on their feet” and “prepare for the next growing season”.
The Scottish Land and Estates (SLE) Chief Executive, Sarah-Jane Laing, also expressed her gratitude to the Scottish Government, and said that the funding would “make a real difference” to the rural economy and environment. She added that the flooding had highlighted the need for “long-term investment” in flood prevention and mitigation measures, and urged the Scottish Government to work with the landowners and managers to “deliver sustainable solutions” for the future.