If the Scottish Government has chosen to not protect this programme from the effects of austerity, it sets a worrying precedent for how they plan to support our rural communities once we’ve left the European Union.Mark Ruskell MSP
Mark Ruskell MSP, Environment, Food & Farming spokesperson for the Scottish Greens, today (14 Sep) questioned the First Minister over the Scottish Government’s £109m cut to the Scottish Rural Development Programme (SRDP), saying they have ‘sneaked’ the announcement out without proper debate or scrutiny.
The Government announced the cuts on 29 August in a written question emailed to MSPs, with no public statement or parliament debate.
The Greens are calling for a full explanation of these cuts and how they will impact on rural communities and Scotland’s environmental targets.
Mark Ruskell, Environment, Food & Farming spokesperson for the Scottish Greens and MSP for Mid Scotland & Fife, said:
“We’ve spent the last two weeks trying to find out why this vital programme has been cut, but so far all we’ve had from the Government are smoke and mirrors. They have blamed the UK Government for not transferring EU convergence funding, but this is a separate fund that was never part of the SRDP budget in the first place. They also said that spending in some schemes was ‘lower than expected’, but not explained why this is or what they have done to improve uptake in underspent programmes.
"The SRDP supports vital work in our rural communities, such as protecting wildlife habitats and biodiversity, delivering, rural infrastructure and training our farmers of the future. It also helps drive innovation and learning that is going to build the resilient and sustainable farming sector we need for the future. If the Scottish Government has chosen to not protect this programme from the effects of austerity, it sets a worrying precedent for how they plan to support our rural communities once we’ve left the European Union.
"This announcement was sneaked out by the Scottish Government and they have avoided any scrutiny so far. We need a full explanation from ministers and the opportunity for MSPs and stakeholders to have their say."
The SRDP is part of the European Union’s Common Agricultural Policy and uses funds from both the EU and the Scottish Government to support environmental, social and economic measures that benefit rural Scotland.