Skip to content

Agribusiness News March 2024 – Policy Brief

1 March 2024

Agri-Environment Climate Scheme

Slurry Storage

From the 1st of January 2026, under the Water Environment (Controlled Activities) (Scotland) Amendment Regulations 2021, all businesses producing slurry from housed livestock must have sufficient slurry storage capacity equivalent to:

  • 26 weeks for housed pigs, and/or
  • 22 weeks for housed cattle.

However, for businesses seeking support funding under the 2024 round of the Agri Environment Scheme (AECS); it is important to note the following aspects:

  • This is the last year that funding will be available for slurry storage.
  • AECS funding regulations require businesses to provide 26 weeks’ storage for cattle slurry to ensure resilience against increasing rainfall due to climate change.
  • Support funding is not available to convert from a straw based to a slurry-based housing system.
  • Support funding is only available for the current number of eligible livestock on the holding not for any future expansion plans.
  • Grant aid is not available for slatted tanks.
  • This AECS grant funding for slurry storage is not available to businesses located in an NVZ.
  • The deadline for applications for support funding for slurry storage is Friday 19th April 2024.

The implementation of the 19th April application deadline is linked to seeking to ensure that all AECS grant aided slurry projects will be completed before the Water Environment (Controlled Activities) (Scotland) Amendment Regulations 2021 transition period ends on the 1st January 2026.

Further eligibility and application requirements are available on the Rural Payments Website

Stand-alone Water Use Efficiency Lagoons

The deadline for Stand-alone Irrigation Lagoon applications (lagoon and underground drainage only) is Friday 19th April 2024.  Successful applications will receive contracts from May 2024 onwards.

Eligible projects will be paid per cubic meter – £2.94 per cubic metre without a proprietary liner or £8.20 per cubic metre with a proprietary liner, with a maximum payment per business of £40,000.

Minimum Energy Efficiency Standards Consultation

As part of the Scottish Government’s plan to introduce a minimum energy efficiency standard for properties in the private rented sector (PRS), the Government published a consultation document entitled Delivering Net Zero for Scotland’s Buildings which sets out new proposals to improve the energy efficiency of all properties in Scotland – both in homes and non-domestic buildings.

Two key proposals to note are that:

  • At the end of 2028, private landlords will need to have met the minimum energy efficiency standard or they will not be allowed to re-let the property if the existing tenant leaves.
  • If purchasing a property, the buyer must replace any polluting heating system (gas/oil based) within a specified amount of time following completion of the sale. The proposal in the consultation is within 2 to 5 years.

The Government is keen to hear how these proposals could impact on rural areas/communities especially where recent storms have severely impacted on electricity supplies.  The deadline for responses is Friday 8th March 2024, which can be submitted here.

Visitor Levy (Scotland) Bill

Legislation which would give councils the power to introduce a visitor levy to raise funding for local tourism facilities and services has passed its first vote in Parliament.  Of the 27 EU member States, 21 currently have a visitor levy scheme.

If the Bill is passed, the Visitor Levy (Scotland) Bill would enable councils to levy a percentage of the overnight accommodation cost, with the % rate being set by the local council.  The levy would be collected by the accommodation providers and remitted to the relevant local authority. It would apply to almost all types of overnight accommodation, including hotels, self-catering accommodation and campsites.

All money raised would be reinvested in facilities and services that are substantially used by visitors, benefitting tourists and local economies.

Sign up to the FAS newsletter

Receive updates on news, events and publications from Scotland’s Farm Advisory Service