The first round of a new NatureScot Peatland ACTION incentive scheme to encourage more peatland restoration project designers to develop and submit applications for its funding is already fully subscribed for its first, pilot year.
Peatland ACTION, a partnership of NatureScot with Forestry & Land Scotland, Scottish Water, Cairngorms National Park and Loch Lomond & Trossachs National Park, is working to deliver the Scottish Government’s aim of putting 250,000ha of peatlands ‘on the road to restoration’ by 2030. To achieve the pace and scale needed to do this it recognises that it has to significantly increase the pipeline of projects. This in turn requires more project designers across the industry to develop projects and submit applications to Peatland ACTION for funding.
To date Peatland ACTION has supported some of the costs associated with project development, by commissioning feasibility studies, peat depth, and ecological surveys, but it has only financially supported a few third parties with the wider work associated with project development and coordinating application submission.
It wants this to change and in 2022 commissioned Pareto Consulting to produce ‘Incentivising and coordinating peatland restoration’, a report which considered the merits of incentivising the planning and coordination element of peatland restoration projects in Scotland.
Following this review it now has funding in place to incentivise people and firms with the right skills and experience to develop a pipeline of projects at scale to help meet the Scottish Government target. The Peatland ACTION Project Development Support Scheme provides a significant contribution to project development costs.
The scheme is open to those who can commit to developing a minimum of 500ha of Peatland ACTION applications within an agreed time frame.
Applicants to the scheme will take projects through the development process from initial landowner engagement to the submission of applications.
Peatland ACTION is encouraging applications for multiyear projects delivered over a maximum of three years.
Subject to approval, submitted applications will need to start delivery in the following peatland restoration season (Sept to March inclusive subject to any agreed extensions using the breeding bird protocol).
The scheme offers three, increasing payment levels for hectares developed: 500ha to 750ha; 750ha to 1000 ha; and above 1000ha.
It is only available for the development of projects that will be submitted to NatureScot. Projects within the two National Parks and any being developed on behalf of Scottish Water or Forest and Land Scotland are not eligible, at least in this first year.
To find out more about the scheme, eligibility, and how to apply visit the NatureScot website at https://www.nature.scot/doc/peatland-action-project-development-support-scheme