3 Policies and Proposals
This section sets out the new policies and proposals that will be taken forward under the Land Use Strategy 2016 - 2021. In line with the definitions given in Low Carbon Scotland, the Report on Policies and Proposals 2, a 'policy' is a course of action which has already been wholly or largely decided upon. A 'proposal' is a suggested course of action, the details of which might change as this course of action is explored further.
3.1 Policy Context
The Land Use Strategy 2016 - 2021 provides us with the opportunity to ensure the most appropriate use and management of the country's land resources, and to emphasise key policy areas where we plan to work on enhanced alignment. The Land Use Strategy 2016 - 2021 is relevant across a wide spectrum of Government policy and by its very nature land and land use has an impact on many aspects of life in Scotland. However this is not a comprehensive look across all aspects of related policy. This was undertaken in the first Strategy and remains valid. In this section we highlight only those areas where there is a need for further action in the next 5 year period.
Natural Resource Management
Policy 1: We are committed to better understanding and managing Scotland's natural resources to enable their fair, wise and productive use, and to conserve stocks of ecosystem services for future generations. We will do this by promoting an ecosystem approach to managing our natural capital.
Our understanding and thinking about natural resource management and ecosystem services has progressed since the publication of the first Land Use Strategy. The appropriate use and management of Scotland's natural resources is at the heart of a sustainable economy and underpins economic growth. This is founded on the recognition that our economy, health and well-being are tied to a secure and resilient natural environment. Our consideration of natural resources needs to include climate change, both how climate change may impact, and also how we may use the environment to assist us to mitigate against some of the impacts of climate change.
The use of an ecosystems approach is a helpful means to better understand our environment and factor it into decisions. An ecosystems approach is an inclusive approach to looking after the natural environment and is defined by the Convention on Biological Diversity as 'a strategy for the integrated management of land, water and living resources that promotes conservation and sustainable use in an equitable way'. In simple terms this means working with nature in order to achieve a healthy environment for people and nature. It recognises that all aspects of the environment, including humans, are interrelated and should not be viewed in isolation. Plans, policies, strategies and projects are evaluated against a set of criteria which aim to involve people, take account of the services that ecosystems provide and taking account of how ecosystems work. More detail is provided in the Scottish Government information note on Applying an Ecosystems Approach to Land Use. The work of the land use pilot projects in Aberdeenshire and the Scottish Borders have demonstrated the use of an ecosystems approach. This work, along with that of our key delivery partners such as Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH), Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) and our two national parks, has contributed to understanding what this approach means in practice.
There have been considerable developments in the field of natural capital since the publication of the first Land Use Strategy an update to the Natural Capital Asset Index published by SNH in 2015, the World Forum on Natural Capital and the formation of the Scottish Forum on Natural Capital.
Scotland's natural capital is the stock of natural assets, such as soil, water, trees, woodland, biodiversity or peatland. As humans we benefit from the services which are provided by these natural assets, for example we derive food, clean water, fibre and pollination. These benefits, also known as ecosystem services, are the things which make human life possible. They also contribute to our economic prosperity and overall health and wellbeing. It is important that we recognise their importance and the need to keep these assets in a healthy state. We also need to understand that some, such as cultural services, are less visible than others and not underestimate the value to society of these less obvious assets.
We acknowledge the importance of taking our natural resources into account in the way we make decisions and do business. This does not mean that we must attach a monetary value to the environment, but it does mean that we must be fully aware of the impact of our actions on the environment, both now and in the future.
The approach to natural resource management set out in Policy 1 underpins the way we will implement other policies and proposals in the Land Use Strategy 2016 - 2021 and across Government.
Policy 2: The Land Use Strategy 2016 - 2021 sits alongside and has informed the National Planning Framework 3, Scottish Planning Policy and the National Marine Plan to support Scotland's Economic Strategy 2015. Relevant sectoral strategies (e.g. forestry and agriculture) will take account of the Land Use Strategy.
The Land Use Strategy 2016 - 2021 has a vital role to play in delivering A Stronger Scotland, The Government's Programme for Scotland 2015-16 and subsequent Programmes, and Scotland's Economic Strategy. However, feedback from stakeholders has indicated that the relationship between the Land Use Strategy and other Government policies is not always clear. This policy statement and the diagram below clarify the relationship between key Government policy and strategy documents. The diagram is not comprehensive and uses the plans and policies most closely related in subject matter to the Land Use Strategy 2016 - 2021. It is also important to recognise that policy alignment and influence may be horizontal as well as vertical and that this is not easy to represent in the diagram.
Land Use Strategy Policy Context
*Policies shaded in light blue are either proposed or under development
Statutory Spatial Planning System
Policy 3: We will undertake a programme of information and awareness-raising. This will provide:
- more detail and clarity on the relevance of the Land Use Strategy to the planning system;
- information about the added value the Land Use Strategy can bring, particularly to development planning; and,
- information on the use of an ecosystems approach in Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA), which in turn supports development.
National Planning Framework 3 refers directly to the Land Use Strategy and the Principles for Sustainable Land Use. It highlights the importance of delivering multiple benefits from land and the need to recognise that the environment is a functioning ecosystem within decision making. It also highlights the work of the two land use pilot projects.
Scottish Planning Policy sets out national planning policies which reflect Scottish Ministers' priorities for the operation of the planning system and for the development and use of land. In doing so it promotes consistency in the application of policy across Scotland. Scottish Planning Policy is clear that application of planning policies should have regard to the Principles for Sustainable Land Use.
The planning system and local planning authorities are already delivering against the Objectives of the Land Use Strategy and the application of the Principles is a matter of good planning. Opportunities for community engagement are built into both the preparation of development plans and decision making. In addition, development plans contain detailed policy on areas such as flood risk, the protection of landscape and biodiversity, green networks, and renewable energy development which, through decision making on planning applications, help to deliver the Land Use Strategy 2016 - 2021 and the Principles for Sustainable Land Use. Although the Scottish Government is clear that the planning system is a delivery mechanism for the second Land Use Strategy, the alignment between the Land Use Strategy and planning is not always well understood.
We are aware that we could do more to highlight the potential added value that the Land Use Strategy 2016 - 2021 can bring, in particular, the consideration of an ecosystems approach and the delivery of multiple benefits. We propose to undertake a programme of information and awareness-raising to ensure that this added value is fully recognised.
SEA is a statutory requirement for all development plans (as well as other qualifying plans, programmes and strategies). Since the publication of the first Land Use Strategy, considerable work has been undertaken on the use of an ecosystems approach in SEA and there is good practice and advice to share. We are committed to the publication of an information note on the use of an ecosystems approach in SEA. Once this is available, we will undertake a programme of information and awareness raising with SEA and planning professionals on the use of this approach in decision making.
Activities to increase understanding of the relevance of the Land Use Strategy 2016 - 2021 will provide an opportunity to highlight the contribution that planning and land use can make to climate change adaptation and mitigation. Increased use of an ecosystem approach will support climate mitigation and adaption action through the planning system.
An independent review of the Scottish planning system is currently underway and is due to report to Scottish Ministers in Spring 2016. We will consider the implications of the recommendations for the Land Use Strategy 2016 - 2021 when they emerge.
The relationship between the Land Use Strategy and the planning system will be informed by the outcome of the on-going review of the Scottish planning system, expected later in 2016.
We will work in partnership with the Royal Town Planning Institute Scotland, local authorities, strategic development plan partnerships and others to develop a programme of events for delivery during 2017.
We will publish an information note on the use of an ecosystems approach in SEA in mid-2016 and will undertake awareness raising with SEA practitioners and other relevant bodies and groups.
Policy 4: We will undertake a review of the Scottish Forestry Strategy.
Forestry has a key role to play in terms of delivering the Vision, Objectives and Principles of the Land Use Strategy in rural and urban Scotland. The sustainable management of Scotland's woodlands and forests makes an important contribution to Scotland's economy; it delivers health and well-being benefits for people and a range of other critical ecosystem services including climate change mitigation and adaptation. Woodland and forests have a part to play in reducing the risk from climate change for the people and biodiversity of Scotland; the forestry sector saw a 3.0MtC02e (42%) increase in its carbon sink between 1990 and 2013.
To increase its role in addressing the challenge Scotland faces from climate change, a target of 100,000 ha of new woodland creation between 2012 - 2022 has been established. Within the UK, Scotland is leading the way in terms of areas of new woodland creation, however it is recognised that more needs to be done to achieve the planting target. Forestry Commission Scotland is working closely with stakeholders, following the introduction of a new streamlined Forestry Grants Scheme, to help increase the number of good quality woodland creation proposals.
A potential role exists for farm businesses in delivering benefits to climate change and biodiversity by combining traditional upland agri-land uses with woodland/forestry. Going forward, industry and government will be working in collaboration to consider the opportunities available to land managers to do this.
The Scottish Forestry Strategy was published in 2006 and is due for review. It is important that policy is kept up to date to reflect changing circumstances and to ensure proper read across between different policy strands.
Forestry Commission Scotland will co-ordinate a review of the Scottish Forestry Strategy and ensure it aligns closely with the policies and proposals outlined in the Land Use Strategy 2016 - 2021 and other relevant Scottish Government policy. The Scottish Forestry Strategy will set a vision and direction for all Scotland's forests and woodlands and the range of economic, social and environmental benefits that they provide.
Policy 5: We will develop and consult on the draft of a first Land Rights and Responsibilities Statement which will contain principles to guide the development of public policy on the rights and responsibilities in relation to the ownership, use and management of land.
To date the links between land ownership, use and management have been recognised but the relationships have not always been captured within relevant policy statements. We have already consulted on a draft Land Rights and Responsibilities Statement (LRRS), which proposes a vision and set of principles to guide the development of public policy on the nature and character of land rights and responsibilities in Scotland, and have included a requirement to prepare and publish the LRRS within the recently passed Land Reform (Scotland) Bill.
Stakeholders have provided their views on the proposed LRRS as part of the evidence sessions on the Land Reform (Scotland) Bill to the Rural Affairs, Climate Change and Environment Committee, and many have sought to highlight the links between consideration of land rights and land use. A number of stakeholders have suggested that there are general principles that underpin both consideration of land rights, in the LRRS, and land use, in the Land Use Strategy, as well as other policies that relate to land. This theme was also reflected in many of the responses to the consultation on the draft Land Use Strategy 2016 - 2021.
Scottish Ministers feel there continues to be a strong need to consider land use through the Land Use Strategy, and to consider land rights and responsibilities, through the proposed LRRS. However, Scottish Ministers agree with the majority of respondents to the consultation on the draft Land Use Strategy 2016 - 2021 that there are advantages to having an overarching statement that deals with ownership, use and management of land. Scottish Ministers feel that this can be carried forward in the requirement for publication of the LRRS which will contain principles on land rights and responsibilities to guide the development of public policy in relation to land. This will include principles which relate to ownership, use and management of land.
The LRRS will provide an integrated approach for considering policy on land ownership, use and management including the contribution that land can make to climate change mitigation and adaptation.
The LRRS will not remove or override the Land Use Strategy, which is a statutory requirement. The LRRS will work together with the Land Use Strategy, Scottish Biodiversity Strategy, National Planning Framework and other Government policies, in order to set out a consistent and holistic approach to how all land should be owned, used and managed.
We will develop and consult on the draft of a first LRRS which will contain principles to guide the development of public policy on the rights and responsibilities in relation to the ownership, use and management of land. We recognise the utility of improved integration of Scottish Government policies and strategies relating to land and intend the LRRS to be a step forward in achieving this goal.
This work will be taken forward in conjunction with the implementation of the Land Reform (Scotland) Bill.
3.2 Informed Decision Making
From the outset the first Land Use Strategy sought to improve our decision making capability so that we can make better informed decisions which help us move towards our policy objective of more integrated land use delivering multiple benefits for Scotland. We need to make the most effective use of the data and tools at our disposal and bring together all those with an interest in land in their locality. This effective use of data is underpinned by the wider data agenda. The Data Management Board established by the Scottish Government have published a Data Vision for Scotland which sets out ambitions for a Scotland, which by 2020, recognises the value of data and makes responsible use of that data. The Open Data Strategy is a key component of this overarching data vision.
The capability exists in Scotland to make more effective use of our data and to use it to make better informed decisions. The following set of policies and proposals seek to make data more accessible and useful, and to improve how it is used so that it may assist in underpinning decision making. We also recognise that access to information can help empower communities and stakeholders in terms of land use decision making. This is a key objective of more open and accessible data.
Ecosystem Services Mapping and Tools
Policy 6: We will continue to encourage those holding public data to make it open and available for others to use and will facilitate access to that data via the Land Use Data Directory.
We will explore the development of models and Geographic Information System (GIS) tools to enable assessments of land use/management change.
The regional pilot projects in Aberdeenshire and the Scottish Borders have demonstrated the value of ecosystem services data, and the power of utilising that data in GIS mapping tools to inform decision making. Other organisations and groups have similarly made good use of the range of data now available.
The Land Use Data Directory launched in June 2015 is a first step towards facilitating access to the wide range of data currently available about ecosystem services in Scotland. Scotland's Environment Web (SE Web) also has a key role to play in visualising much of this data and enabling users to view what is available. We will continue to develop and support the Data Directory, linking to the Open Data Strategy. We will continue to encourage those with spatial data sets to ensure that they are available in accessible formats and to follow the open data standards set out in the Open Data Resource Pack.
The availability of data needs to be accompanied by improved tools for its use and we recognise the exploratory work that has been undertaken by a range of groups to develop and use GIS tools.
We acknowledge that for many this type of work is new and challenging and can also be resource intensive. However, such work is important in order to enable better informed decision making and enable all those with an interest in land use to access and utilise data. The Scottish Government will take a lead by exploring the practicality of developing methods and methodologies to assist in the assessment of land use benefits and opportunities at a more local level. We will also explore the development of an online national mapping tool which will reduce the burden locally, set out a national data baseline and encourage consistency across Scotland. In scoping the development of an online mapping tool we will build on the knowledge and experience gained by projects in Scotland, such as the land use pilot projects, in trialling this type of approach.
Utilising more localised map based ecosystems assessment has the potential to contribute to a greater understanding of the effects of climate change and their impacts on the natural environment. This is a key objective of the Climate Change Adaptation Programme - increased sharing of data between organisations, including improved access to data provided through SE Web and new methods and protocols for producing improved flood hazard and risk maps and data license management that enables sharing across partner organisations.
Scotland-wide ecosystem services mapping has the potential to contribute to spatial initiatives such as the natural flood management objectives in the River Basin Management Plans and woodland creation opportunity mapping.
We will also explore the feasibility of developing, as part of the online mapping tool, functionality to allow users to incorporate locally relevant data to build a more comprehensive picture for their locality.
We will continue to encourage the availability and compatibility of ecosystem services data and will work towards ensuring that as much of that data as possible is available through public online mapping services such SE Web or the Atlas of Living Scotland.
We will scope the development of an online mapping tool. Scoping will commence in 2017.
Regional Land Use Partnerships
Policy 7: We will encourage the establishment of regional land use partnerships.
In order to progress better integration of land uses and better understanding of land use and climate change issues there is clear value in bringing together local people, land users and managers into regional or local partnerships. The evidence from the land use pilot projects shows that bringing people together enables better understanding and that there is a willingness and appetite to work together in this way. However it is also clear that such groups need a clear remit to encourage participation.
An ecosystems approach emphasises the need to involve people in decision making. Land use partnerships are a means to enable local people to have a much clearer influence over land use in their area. They are a way to include the views of a wide range of stakeholders and community interests. In addition, land use partnerships have the potential to focus effort on climate change objectives where appropriate. They could assist local communities in building community resilience to climate change issues and addressing particular mitigation or adaptation issues.
While the role and remit of such partnerships is likely to be largely dependent on the issues and challenges they face locally, the area where they can have a significant role and impact is in leading or being closely involved in work to develop regional land use frameworks (see Proposal 1 below). The use of a regional land use partnership to take forward this work gives a clear remit and also provides a mechanism to begin to discuss and address issues around future land uses for an area within the context of better understanding the interactions, the opportunities and the aspirations of local communities.
Regional land use partnerships could be local authority led, but other formats will be considered and alignments based on existing geographical pressures may be more appropriate in some areas. While further work is required to develop clear guidance and to clarify roles and functions for regional land use partnerships, we wish to maintain the momentum generated by the work of the two land use pilots and to explore the feasibility of extending such approaches to a catchment scale. This will increase our understanding and enable known issues to be tackled while we develop more general and widely applicable guidance that will support the delivery of multiple benefits.
To build on the work of the two land use pilot projects we will extend our approach to a catchment scale which will further test the methodology and tackle particular issues in those localities.
We will establish a limited life expert group to assist with developing guidance in relation to regional partnerships. This will include consideration of the potential status, role, remit, function, stakeholder involvement, relationship to existing initiatives and groups, leadership and spatial coverage of regional partnerships. This group will report by end 2017.
Regional Land Use Frameworks
Proposal 1: We will further explore the development of regional land use frameworks for rural areas of Scotland.
The Land Use Strategy pilot projects have demonstrated a range of possible benefits from developing regional land use frameworks including contributing to climate change objectives by identifying suitable areas for tree planting, peatland restoration, flood risk management, natural flood management measures, and areas most likely to deliver multiple benefits. In this way they can help to ensure that climate change is fully factored into decisions about land use.
The independent evaluation and the feedback from the pilot projects themselves show that such frameworks have the potential to:
- Assist in the assessment of how changes in land use and land management may impact on a broad range of ecosystem services;
- Bring stakeholders together and build understanding about competing interests;
- Involve local communities in decisions about their local area;
- Provide context and wider input to a range of local authority responsibilities such as development planning and flood risk planning; and,
- Assist in targeting the use of finite financial resources to where they may have most impact.
However we accept that this is a new and developing area of work and that further work is required before we can consider rolling out this approach more widely. In particular the role of regional partnerships will be crucial to success. We need to ensure that both the data and GIS work under Policy 6 is more advanced and the role and remit for regional land use partnerships (Policy 7) is also more fully developed before we can make progress with regional land use frameworks.
Once the expert group referred to under Policy 7 has completed the work highlighted in relation to regional partnerships we will ask them to consider regional frameworks.
Upon completion of the tasks associated with Policy 7 the limited life expert group will be reconstituted and asked to consider:
- The status of regional frameworks, their usage and their relationship to statutory development plans;
- The potential for streamlining the current range of sectoral plans and strategies which could be incorporated into a single land use framework for a locality, for example, forestry, biodiversity or flood risk strategies;
- The development of tools and guidance for the preparation of regional land use frameworks.
This group will report by end 2018.
Land Use Mediation and Facilitation
Proposal 2: We will explore options for facilitation and/or mediation between land owners/managers and communities.
Mediation and facilitation have distinct but complementary roles to play in generating better understanding and more effective decision making in relation to land use. In both cases dialogue is one of the key aspects to progress. It is anticipated that regional land use partnerships will be effective at building and maintaining dialogue between different interests. However it is recognised that at times dialogue breaks down or it is difficult to initiate discussions between interested groups. In such cases a third party or intermediary can assist in providing facilitation or in playing a mediating role between parties.
Both the Community Empowerment (Scotland) Act 2015 and the Land Reform (Scotland) Bill emphasise the importance the Scottish Government places on engaging and empowering communities. The Community Empowerment (Scotland) Act specifically contains powers for Ministers to take such steps as they consider appropriate for the purpose of arranging, or facilitating the arrangement of, mediation in relation to registration of an interest in land, or the exercise of the right to buy land within the Land Reform (Scotland) Act 2003. The Land Reform (Scotland) Bill contains provisions to ensure that land use decisions do not act as a barrier to the sustainable development of communities. We anticipate that in the majority of cases disputes will be resolved without having to resort to statutory means, however, assistance in the form of facilitation or mediation may be required.
The Rural Parliament has highlighted the need for a facilitation service between land owners and communities in certain situations. Similar issues have been raised by stakeholders who feel that facilitation would help to encourage earlier/better dialogue between communities and landowners/agents to understand each other's needs more clearly and identify where there are mutually beneficial outcomes. The importance of early dialogue and engagement between landowners and communities was also identified by the One Million Acre Short Life Working Group. Mediation would help to address barriers where relationships have deteriorated in negotiations. Much can be learned from other sectors in this respect and the work undertaken by planning to utilise charrettes as an approach to community involvement is a good example of where we can learn from good practice elsewhere.
We will develop and consult on proposals. The close relationship with proposed regional land use partnerships means that this will take place after the expert group referred to in Policy 7 has reported.
This work will be taken forward in conjunction with the implementation of the Community Empowerment (Scotland) Act 2015, the Land Reform (Scotland) Bill and recommendations contained within the One Million Acre Strategy Report.
3.3 Applying the Principles
The following policies and proposals are about actions which directly apply the Land Use Strategy 2016 - 2021 Principles and Objectives or which will have a direct influence on the ground in future years. They represent the focus of activity and resources during the next 5 year period; however, they do not represent all on-going activity.
Policy 8: We will develop and implement a package of measures to facilitate the step change to climate friendly farming and crofting. This will promote carbon efficient agriculture, environmental benefits and increasingly integrated land use.
Our food exports have an enviable reputation for quality which stems in part from the quality of the environment in which they are produced. Scotland's food and drink sector relies heavily on our wonderful environment to market its produce world-wide. We have a responsibility not only to care for our own environment but to be mindful of the impact of our production methods on other parts of the globe, notably through greenhouse gas emissions and other factors which influence climate change. It is important that agriculture's role, providing a balance between productivity and delivering environmental benefits, is recognised. Becoming a Good Food Nation highlights the importance of environmentally sound production of food and the need to consider its impact both locally and around the world.
Agriculture is responsible for almost a quarter of Scotland's greenhouse gas emissions, producing 12.5 MtCO2e in 2013 - almost as much as transport and energy production. This is due to the gases produced in agriculture - nitrous oxide, caused by cultivation and fertiliser use, has almost 300 times more impact on global warming than carbon dioxide. Methane, which is produced by livestock, has 25 times carbon dioxide's effect. The emissions from agriculture are more than Scotland's entire total statutory permitted greenhouse gas emissions for 2050 from all sources, so reductions must be made.
The new Farm Advisory Services provision under the SRDP includes a range of measures designed to promote best farming and crofting practice. Amongst other things, this will promote climate change mitigation and adaptation measures through a range of different delivery mechanisms such as face-to-face advice; consultancy support; distribution of technical notes and other web based material; and carbon audits.
In a similar vein, activities such as Farming for a Better Climate and Future Proofing Scotland's Farming promote the uptake of adaptation measures, which help to increase the resilience of agriculture to climate change and also a suite of mitigation measures.
In addition, the Knowledge Transfer and Innovation Fund under the SRDP provides support for complimentary project based initiatives to facilitate knowledge exchange, innovation and climate friendly best practice in farming and crofting. There is also the beef efficiency scheme which is a five-year scheme aiming to help beef breeders improve their efficiency and aiming to deliver sustainable beef production while reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
The Future of Scottish Agriculture - A Discussion Document sets out our aspirations for a greener, innovative and profitable agriculture industry. This vision includes a number of outcomes, one of which is to be world leading in green farming. This outcome will be realised through a number of future aims: farmers working with nature and embracing their role as custodians of the natural environment; a low carbon agriculture industry; halting the loss of farmland biodiversity; achieving good water quality in water bodies affected by diffuse pollution; farmers and the climate benefiting from the efficient use of energy feed and fertilizer; and, farmers combining food production with other land uses, including farm woodlands, renewables, flood management, etc. to make the best use of their land. We are also keen to ensure that smaller producers, such as crofters, are fully involved as they have an important contribution to make.
As part of the recent national discussion on the future of Scottish agriculture, farmers and land managers have provided their thoughts to the Scottish Government on these outcomes. This has helped in identifying some of the initial actions required to help realise the vision for Scottish agriculture.
A suite of measures is currently under development which will assist land managers to move towards more climate friendly farming. Scotland's farm businesses have already made significant progress in this direction, but more can, and needs, to be achieved if we are to realise our vision of climate friendly farming.
The focus is on practical action which can be taken at a holding level to benefit both the climate and the farm business. Practical measures and approaches are being developed for the Third Report on Policies and Proposals (RPP3), to be published in 2016, and there will be an on-going roll out of actions in following years. These could include work on further integration of different land uses such as appropriate tree planting on farms. We will work with our industry partners to ensure wide dissemination of information and knowledge so as to increase take up and participation.
To help deliver the Agriculture Vision's aspiration that Scotland is a world-leader in green farming, we will work in partnership with stakeholders to explore opportunities to encourage a step-change in agriculture, where farmers combine environmentally and commercially successful management in the running of their businesses. For example, we will explore the scope to incentivise sustainable farming practices through CAP measures like cross compliance, greening and SRDP. We will provide information on 'win-win' practices that benefit both the environment and farm businesses through the Farm Advisory Service and demonstration farms. We will also explore the scope to use marketing and branding tools to recognise and reward improvements in sustainability.
Through 2016 we will work with industry, science and environmental stakeholders to create new policies to reduce both the total greenhouse gas emissions associated with agriculture, and the intensity of emissions from livestock. We will focus on improving soil fertility, tackling livestock disease and increasing efficiency in fertiliser and fuel use. These new policies will be included in the RPP3, which will be published in December 2016.
Policy 9: We will continue to develop a targeted approach in the current SRDP Agri-Environment Climate Scheme and will utilise more localised map-based ecosystems assessments to inform funding decisions as appropriate and as these become available across Scotland.
The new SRDP has established the principle of targeting to enable measures and support to be focused where they are likely to be most effective and make most efficient use of resources. As pressure on resources increases it is imperative that we continue to refine and develop our targeting to ensure that we generate the best economic and environmental returns for Scotland and link this to achieving our biodiversity targets and improved ecosystem health and restoration.
The targeting of SRDP agri-environment options is supported by a range of spatial information. As the land use pilot projects have shown, there is scope to significantly increase the use of GIS data to assist with a targeted approach and to place that targeted approach within a wider ecosystem or landscape context. Work is currently underway to assess how the framework approach developed by the pilots can be developed within the context of the SRDP.
As more detailed and refined mapping of ecosystem services data becomes available, through the development of ecosystem services mapping and tools (Policy 6) this will be used to inform decisions for the current SRDP measures. Regional land use frameworks (Proposal 1) and partnerships (Policy 7) also have a role in terms of bringing stakeholders together to discuss and consider the outputs and their use more widely to promote a more integrated approach to land use and the achievement of multiple benefits. In time, the development of regional land use frameworks will contribute significantly to enabling decisions to be made within a wider ecosystems context.
We will explore the role which regional land use partnerships and frameworks can play in developing map-based ecosystem assessment and their use in targeting in the current SRDP Agri-Environment Climate Scheme. This will be part of the remit for the expert group referred to under Policy 7 and Proposal 1.
Proposal 3: We will explore the further development of a targeted approach to agri-environment in the next SRDP (post 2020) and how this could make increased use of an assessment of ecosystem health and a spatial approach.
Our experience is that the lead-in times for the SRDP are considerable, and early strategic consideration of the approach to the next SRDP (post 2020) would be highly beneficial. Now that the new SRDP and the agri-environment scheme are operational we have an opportunity to consider what the next scheme could deliver for Scotland and whether there is a case to reshape it.
The increased emphasis on targeting, as set out above, the acceptance of ecosystem health as a means to support the targeting work, and the use of a more spatial approach could enable the next SRDP to be more focused so that limited financial resources can be targeted much more precisely. This would support the delivery of the Scottish Biodiversity Strategy by enabling ecosystem enhancement and restoration where it is most needed and provide a means to address climate change issues. Similarly, The Future of Scottish Agriculture - A Discussion Document sets out next steps which include using Pillar 1 and Pillar 2 incentives to recognise and reward delivery of environmental benefits and integrated land use.
In addition to the work of the land use pilot projects, there is a range of other work underway or completed which could add to our consideration of the approaches we might take to the next SRDP. These include work to increase the effectiveness of the Environmental Impact Assessment Regulations, forestry assessment procedures, regulatory work on Nitrate Vulnerable Zones, a range of public agency work and on-going work on cross compliance and greening.
A package of agri-environment measures under the next SRDP which are locally focused and targeted, driven by ecosystem health measures and address climate change issues could offer considerable potential to deliver better environmental outcomes and maximise the return on investment of public money
We will commission a feasibility study to consider using an assessment of ecosystem health and a spatial approach to inform a targeted approach to agri-environment in the next SRDP (post 2020). This will be commissioned by 2017.
Urban Land Use
Proposal 4: We will explore the feasibility of establishing an urban land use pilot project.
The Land Use Strategy 2016 - 2021 applies across the whole of Scotland and is equally applicable in urban and rural areas. To date, the work of our two land use pilot projects in Aberdeenshire and the Scottish Borders has focused on land use and the application of an ecosystems approach in a primarily rural context. However the principles of an ecosystems approach and the Land Use Strategy Principles for Sustainable Land Use apply equally well in urban areas and have much to offer the decision making process within our towns and cities.
Our statutory spatial planning system similarly applies equally across urban and rural Scotland, although the highest intensity of development activity often tends to be in and around urban areas. To complement Policy 3 and to further illustrate the benefits that an ecosystems approach can bring to planning decisions through the SEA process, we will explore setting up an urban land use pilot. It is also important that we understand the relationships between urban and rural areas, the peri-urban interface and how an urban area relates to its rural hinterland. Such a project will enable us to gain a better understanding of the role that the Land Use Strategy 2016 - 2021 could play in an urban setting, its relationship with planning and how, as part of the supporting SEA, an ecosystems approach can be used to best effect in an urban setting. It will take into account existing initiatives, such as projects that are being delivered through River Basin Management Plans.
We will prepare a proposal for an urban pilot project. This will explore the application of the Land Use Strategy Principles to an urban area and the relationships between urban and rural areas. The proposal will be developed by mid-2017.
Upland Land Use
Proposal 5: We will scope the potential to develop a strategic vision for the uplands, exploring the multiple benefits they deliver and how they can contribute to climate change targets.
The Scottish Government's approach to reducing emissions from the rural land use sector is guided by the Land Use Strategy which supports an integrated approach to managing the competing demands we place on our land resource. The potential of upland Scotland to contribute to the climate change agenda is significant and has been recognised through the Peatland Plan which promotes good management of peatlands and supports restoration where required. Upland areas have considerable potential to deliver multiple benefits from land use and to make a more wide ranging contribution to the climate change agenda in terms of mitigation and adaptation such as carbon storage in peatland areas, flood mitigation resulting from tree planting and riparian management and renewable energy opportunities. Upland enterprises also play an important role in maintaining communities in remote regions.
However, upland areas are also areas of challenge, in terms of the economic viability of land based businesses and individual producers such as crofters, and the potential tensions between competing land uses. The debate should include the opportunities for land use change that can enhance the ecosystem services delivered from these areas in addition to improvements to the economic viability of land holdings through diversification and integrated land use e.g. appropriate woodland establishment.
We consider that the Land Use Strategy 2016 - 2021 presents an opportunity to bring together the full range of issues which are apparent in upland Scotland and to consider these in a strategic way so that we can agree a new vision for our uplands, consider how the uplands can contribute to the climate change agenda and how we can better manage these areas in a more integrated and sustainable way for the future.
We recognise that this is a challenging task given the complexity and wide range of interests represented. Indeed even the term 'uplands' is contested, and we acknowledge the need to tread carefully to ensure the support of all with an interest in these areas. For this reason we propose to scope the preparation of a strategic vision. Only after we have taken this initial step will we determine whether it is feasible to proceed with the development of a shared vision for the uplands.
We will commission Scottish Natural Heritage to scope the preparation of a strategic vision for the uplands by end 2016.