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Subsidy deadline extended

National Farmers Union Scotland chief executive Scott Walker is disappointed both AECS deadlines have not been extended.

FARMERS and crofters have been given an extra five days to submit their Agri-Environment Climate Scheme (AECS) applications after a computer system failure meant some applicants experienced technical problems.

The original deadline was Wednesday (20 April), but following pressure from NFU Scotland the cut-off point has been moved to Monday.

A Scottish government computer system failure last weekend resulted in some applicants having trouble viewing documents or uploading files.

The deadline for submitting supporting documents remains 16 May.

The government has pledged £350 million between 2015 and 2020 to support land management practices that adapt to climate change and promote natural heritage.

NFU Scotland chief executive Scott Walker welcomed the extension, but criticised the government for not extending the deadline for supporting evidence.

“We are disappointed that our request for an extension to the deadline for submitting supporting evidence for AECS applications has not been successful.

“That unfortunately means that the AECS evidence deadline of 16 May overlaps with the deadline for submitting SAF [Single Application Form] 2016 – a crucial date in the farming calendar for those looking to access support through the new CAP schemes.

“The union remains convinced that this is a clash that should be avoided if quality AECS applications are to be encouraged.”

The Scottish government has been heavily criticised this year for failing to pay famers and crofters basic CAP payments on time after their new £178 million IT system malfunctioned.