SRDP Rural Development Operational Committee (RDOC) meeting: December 2022

Minutes from the group's meeting on 7 December 2022.

Attendees and apologies

  • John Kerr (Chair), Scottish Government (SG), APD
  • James Muldoon, SG, APD
  • Louise Lang, SG, APD
  • Iain Sadler, SG, APD
  • Kairn Macleod, SG, APD
  • Kara Coalter, SG
  • Lauren Johnstone, RESAS
  • Frederick Foxton, RESAS
  • Stuart Harvie, SG, APD
  • Matthew Lourie, SG
  • Stephanie Igoe, SG, APD
  • Ute Ally, European Commission
  • Ana Goncalves, European Commission
  • Elge Puosiunaite, European Commission
  • Alan Roberston, SRN
  • Hannah Downey, SRN
  • Alistair Henry, SG
  • Anthony Sherlock, SG
  • Fiona Johnston, SG
  • Fiona Thomson, SG
  • Gordon Jackson, SG
  • Jack Dalziel, SG
  • Julien Pace, Scottish Enterprise
  • Maria de la Torre, NatureScot
  • Patrick Krause, SCF
  • Darrell Crothers, SEPA
  • Andy RockalL, CWA

Items and actions


  • welcome and apologies
  • standing items:
    • minutes from meeting of 26 May 2021 [Paper - 0084]

    • programme Progress Report [Paper - 0086]

    • programme implementation [EC verbal update]

    • scheme Update Table [Paper - 0087]

  • discussion
  • any other business

Welcome and apologies

The Chair, John Kerr welcomed members to the December Rural Development Operational Committee (RDOC) meeting and began the meeting by introducing the attendees and noting apologies.

Minutes from the previous meeting

The minutes from the previous meeting were circulated and finalised following the previous meeting and were included as part of the invite for this meeting. The Chair asked if there were any comments on the minutes and received confirmation there were no comments or amendments to the minutes.

Programme progress report

RDOC actions/issues log

During the previous RDOC meeting there were a number of prior actions and issues in the log and it was agreed that these had been covered and cleared. All actions from the previous meeting have been completed and removed from the action log.

Programme update

The Committee was informed that the Scottish Parliament unanimously passed the Agriculture (Retained EU Law and Data) (Scotland) Act 2020 to enable the continuation of CAP schemes from 2021, while future agriculture policy is being co-developed. A Scottish Agriculture Bill will be brought forward in 2023 to replace CAP and the consultation to this closed on 5 December 2022. It was advised that the bill has will be kept in line with the current EU CAP policies.

It was noted by officials that a 4 Nations meeting was held the day before this meeting and while working on questions to ask the EU commission, all national authorities are on track to spend payments by 2023.

Programme monitoring

The Committee was informed that there was an 8th modification aligning the budget and forecasting spend which was shared on 9th March 2022. The European Commission formally adopted the modification on 31 May 2022 and officials are now looking into making a potential 9th modification.

European Commission colleagues highlighted some key dates including the SRDP closure on 31 Dec 2023. The last Implementation Reports are due summer 2023 and summer 2024 with a last modification deadline of 30 September 2023. European Commission colleagues confirmed that they would send Government officials closure guidelines.

The New Entrants and Young Farmers Start-up grant schemes evaluation report has now been published and found that it was successful in bringing in new young farmers but there are still some challenges. Two further evaluations – covering the Knowledge Transfer and Innovation Fund (KITF) and the Forestry Grant Scheme respectively – are underway and are due to be published in 2023.

The 2021 Implementation Report was accepted by the Committee with no changes and it was confirmed the next collection of information for 2022 is likely to be completed by summer 2023.


An SRDP Communications plan was not developed this year, but there are discussions with colleagues around a plan for 2022-2023. 

Resourcing issued have impacted on the development of a communications plan due to the loss of a dedicated communications professional to a promotion and the ongoing recruitment freeze within Government.

Despite staffing challenges, SRN have maintained social media content posted across a range of platforms, commissioned podcasts and published a weekly newsletter which have been well received. A stakeholder highlighted that the day to day communication is really valuable.


The total budget remains at €1.5bn and the programme spend at the end of October 2022 was 97%. The Scottish Government 2023/24 budget will be published on 15 December 2022 and follows on from the Emergency Budget Review to tackle the ongoing cost of living crisis.

Error rate action plan

A European Commission Audit on the delivery of LEADER and Farm Advisory Service funding is coming to a close with one issue outstanding on each scheme. It is hoped that the further evidence that officials provided in October 2022 will see the proposed 10% disallowance reduced or removed for one or both schemes. Based on normal European Commission timings, it is hoped that they will provide us with an update on their position by 31 December 2022.

Risk register

An update to the Brexit/funding guarantees was provided. Due to EU Exit, the Scottish Government no longer have long-term certainty of funding and unilateral choices imposed by HM Treasury was confirmed provides insufficient replacement EU budget. The Scottish Government is currently awaiting engagement from UK government to agree the principles of future allocation.

Officials also are continuing to monitor programme and scheme budget allocations and contribute to SG spending reviews, including the Emergency Budget Review resulting from the cost of living crisis response.

The LFASS support has continued domestically in SRDP 2021 onwards and LFA support will be considered as part of wider Agriculture Replacement Programme.

RESAS have also continued to work on evaluations of schemes and officials are considering the best approaches to on-going monitoring and evaluation in future, and it was noted that the ex-post Evaluation of the entire programme will be upcoming.

It was finally highlighted that the COVID-19 mitigations that were put in place were successfully delivered and officials will continue to monitor on-going impacts on successful completion of contracts.

Programme implementation

A member of the European Commission expressed their gratitude for the efforts made to implement the programme effectively. They were pleased to see how it has been running through the years and noted that it has been handled well. Therefore, they don’t see any problems arising going forward.

Scheme update table

There were no notable issues to raise regarding the table. The Chair confirmed with committee to move on to the next item which was agreed.


No topics were raised for discussion.

Any other business

No other business was raised .

Action points

Action point 1

European Commission to send programme closure guidlines – completed

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