SRUC Warning over CAP to Scottish Parliament Cross Party Group

Published Wednesday, 10th October 2012 in Rural Policy Centre news

Scottish parliament

Scotland may struggle to meet its environmental targets if CAP reform is delayed further.

That was the message to a meeting of the Cross Party Group on Rural Policy by SRUC Senior Researcher from Auchincruive, Dr Davy McCracken.

The meeting – which is coordinated by SRUC’s Rural Policy Centre – was chaired by Alex Fergusson MSP and involved some 40 people working in rural policy who discussed the topic ‘who and what is rural for, in the 21st century?’ The talk by Davy McCracken, Reader in Agricultural Ecology, focused on the many environmental issues needing to be addressed in the next 10-15 years to ensure Scotland becomes a greener nation.

He reminded the group of the various, and challenging, targets that have been set by the Scottish Government around environment and climate change. Greenhouse gas emissions are to be reduced by 42% by 2020 while renewable energy should account for 30% of all energy use age by 2020. The government also hope that 97% of Scotland’s water can be classed as good by 2027 (up from 63%) and that we can not only halt biodiversity loss and ecosystem degradation by 2020 but also start reversing the damage already caused.

There are many possible routes to follow when it comes to reaching these objectives; good soil management and high nature value farming for example, but for Davy, the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) is the key element which will determine whether Scotland can achieve these ambitious targets.

“It is crucial that the current CAP reform is not delayed further,” he said. “The CAP provides a large proportion of the capital required for environmental actions on the ground. If it is delayed there will be no EU funds available in 2014 and no new priorities set to ensure that land managers can do the range of green activities needed to make a real difference by 2020.”

The evening’s other speakers were Professor David Miller from the James Hutton Institute who spoke about the many possibilities for future land use, and Jo Ellis from the Forestry Commission Scotland who told the group about the benefits of, and barriers to, woodland expansion.

The group also discussed the launch of SRUC, as well as possible topics for forthcoming meetings such as rural housing and balancing the supply chain. The next meeting will be 4th December.

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