The Scottish Rural Development Programme (SRDP) is the Scottish Government’s mechanism for distributing land-based payments from the EU funding pot. A new programme runs from 2014 – 2020, and its shape and detail are being consulted on until the end of the February.
Leaving orchards out of this programme effectively means that the restoration, replanting, maintenance of our traditional orchards is very unlikely to be funded under the SRDP. That is a blow to the very many of us that are working towards an orchard revival, because SRDP is the biggest pot of land-based funding by far.
As an orchard community we need to make our voices heard. The easiest way to do that is to make a formal comment on the Consultation. It’s not hard – here’s how:
1. To have a look at the documents, go to ‘Section 9: Agri-Environment-Climate Scheme’ (page 50) of the draft proposal:
So no mention of orchards here. The other part that should be relevant is Annex C “Agri-Environment-Climate Scheme OPTIONS. Provisional list for consultation” (Page 11) of the Annexes:
While farmland birds, game cover, habitat for waders, ancient woodland cover, hedgerow restoration amongst many others are important – so are the omitted orchards that are still being lost in Scotland.
2. Go to https://consult.scotland.gov.uk/eu-rural-development-policy/srdp-2014-20-stage-2/consultation It looks like a big list – but you only need to fill in two sections. The first one is ‘Information about you’, and then,
3. Go to ‘Section 9: Agri-Environment-Climate Scheme’.
Click how dissatisfied you are with the Scheme, and then write some comments.
You might want to say how you value traditional orchards for their cultural heritage, how lovely the Spring blossom looks, how you look forward to the first fruit on the season, how there is a growing interest in using the produce, and training local people in orchard management.
And how their omission from the forthcoming programme of the SRDP will have serious negative consequences for an orchard revival – especially for the larger old heritage orchards with the highest biodiversity.
4. Click on the Finish/Submit button and that’s it. Cross fingers and hope that the comments are acted on. The closing date is 28th Feb 2014.
Together we can make a change for the better.