The Scottish Government scheme provides funding by means of capital and management payments over a five-year contract, with the overarching aim of promoting sustainable land management practices. Priorities include: enhancing natural heritage, improving water quality, reducing diffuse pollution, managing flood risks and mitigating and adapting to climate change.

As has been so widely discussed, the management of our countryside is crucial in the larger scale picture of national and global climate effect. And the industry is often cited as being a large contributor to the climate issue. The AECS application round allows land managers to consider alternative farming practices, whilst benefiting from grant funding in order to facilitate the management changes and capital investment required, on average, the scheme brings in around £15,000 per year.

The scheme aims to promote and implement positive practices within the five-year contract. However, the resulting benefits should be sustained. If chosen carefully and strategically, the AECS options should embed in the farming system, and form part of the ongoing policy.

This is why the most crucial part of an AECS application is finding a balance – implementing a sustainable programme from the options available, whilst incorporating the current farming systems. As the application process is awarded on a point’s basis, the schemes need to meet a number of targets, alongside meeting the farming policy and objectives.

It’s worth noting there’s an increasing number of grant offerings appearing in both Scotland and England, some of them complex, with potential pitfalls for the unwary. Chasing grants for their own sake is never good business – they should support a wider strategy. Professional advice is vital to ensure you make the most of what’s available.

We have worked with an array of farmers and land managers, implementing schemes across various agricultural and environmental systems. The AECS scheme is an opportunity that should be grabbed by all looking to best utilise and protect their natural resources, all the while taking account of the effects of the scheme, and using it as an opportunity to take stock of and alter farming policy.


  • Natural Capital: The expert team of advisers at Galbraith guide our clients in realising value in all land uses – by assessing and measuring natural assets, furthering opportunities in biodiversity net gain, and ensuring stakeholders are rewarded fully for their investment in and contribution to delivering ecosystem services and net-zero outcomes.