There is a renewed push by the Scottish Government to provide financial support to landowners and land managers who are undertaking peatland restoration projects on their land. This is due to the crucial role restoring degraded peatland will play in Scotland’s drive to be net-zero by 2045 at the latest.
Peatland restoration is a nature-based solution to many of the challenges facing rural Scotland and beyond. Not only will it contribute hugely to our long-term climate goals but it will also enhance biodiversity, improve water quality and mitigate the risk of fire and flood. It will also form an important part of Scotland’s Green Recovery from the pandemic by creating jobs in the rural economy.
Due to all the reasons above, the Scottish Government have made peatland restoration one of their key climate targets, with the funding to match. See below for details of this funding and how to apply:
NatureScot – Peatland ACTION Programme
In February 2020 the Scottish Government announced a substantial, multi-annual investment in peatland restoration of £250 million over the next 10 years. A part of this year’s instalment of £22 million is administered by The Peatland ACTION Fund, run by NatureScot (formerly Scottish Natural Heritage), with a portion of the funding going directly to The National Parks. The Fund is now open for projects planned for delivery before 31 March 2022, and the deadline for applications is midnight on 30 September 2021.
Ewan Campbell, Peatland ACTION Project Coordinator says: "There is still time to put together a Peatland ACTION funding application before the 30 September deadline. We are also seeking applicants for multi-year projects and would encourage early conversations with our Project Officers to discuss starting phase one activities this financial year. Active restoration works will soon be starting again across Scotland with a number of our projects due to commence in the coming weeks.”
This funding will support restoration projects that meet the funding suitability conditions. Examples of projects can include installation of peat dams in man-made ditches to increase water levels, allowing the peat-building mosses (called sphagnums) to re-generate. It also supports modern techniques, such as peat hag re-vegetating by using the surrounding vegetation to stabilise the bare eroding peat.
It is highly recommended that any landowner considering applying get in touch with a Peatland ACTION project officer as soon as possible. They will be able to advise not only on your proposed project but also on the specific pre and post application requirements, such as:
- An applicant must provide detailed spatial data and plans relating to the proposed restoration. When considering a project, Peatland ACTION can assist in compiling a Feasibility Study to map and assess the proposed project. This data can then be used in a later application;
- An applicant must (with the assistance of Peatland ACTION) provide a peat depth and peatland condition survey prior to restoration work beginning;
- An applicant must satisfy Peatland ACTION that their project is compliant with The Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2015. This is because restoration work is technically a form of construction and it usually takes place on rural, isolated terrain – therefore health & safety is a paramount concern.
- An applicant must satisfy Peatland ACTION that they have demonstrated good procurement practices when hiring any contractors.
There are of course other steps that need to be taken but the project officer will be able to guide and support applicants throughout. Where applicants are unsure of their obligations, Peatland ACTION advises applicants to take professional or legal advice.
Nature Restoration Fund
The Scottish Government have recently announced a new one-year £10 million fund that will support a mix of urban and rural-focused projects. Whilst half the fund will be allocated to local authorities, the remaining half will be open to private landowners and community bodies alike. This includes a £1 million competitive fund to be administered by NatureScot that will support those projects that assist nature recovery and address climate change and/or its impacts.
As is clear from this article, there has never been a better time to undertake a peatland restoration project on your land. The high level of public funding and support from programmes like Peatland ACTION mean that a restoration project that once perhaps looked unfeasible now looks very attractive.
Get in touch - we're here to help
Harper Macleod LLP’s rural team is leading the way on peatland restoration projects and can offer assistance and advice when it comes to funding. Please contact a member of the team for advice on the legal aspects of peatland restoration.
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