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20 July 2005

MSP’s CONCERNS THAT NEW WATER PLANS WILL COST FARMERS

Banff & Buchan MSP Stewart Stevenson has written to Rural Affairs Minister Ross Finnie with concerns that proposals from SEPA on water abstraction for agricultural purposes will mean increased costs for farmers.

Mr Stevenson wrote last year to NFU Scotland branches in his constituency with his concerns on the water abstraction proposals and invited feedback. NFU Scotland nationally made a submission to the Scottish Executive with detailed proposals for minimising the effects the planned regulations will have on farmers and Mr Stevenson has lent his support to this move.

Now, concerns have been raised that farmers abstracting more than 10 cubic metres of water per day will have to pay to be regulated by the new rules.

Mr Stevenson said:

“I said at the time that this seemed like yet another layer of administration that some farmers will be forced to deal with, and it seems I was unfortunately right.

“When I was first elected, I visited a farmer who raised the subject of ‘red tape’ and administration with me and I asked him to give me a practical example by showing me the paperwork relating to one animal. The paperwork he showed me took up the entire length of his kitchen table and ever since then, I have been very conscious of the amount of time our farmers have to spend on paperwork”.

“I support the NFUS view that it is fundamentally unfair to expect farmers to pay a registration fee so they can be bound by more red tape.

“The answer is for the Scottish Executive to properly fund SEPA to carry out its duties instead of SEPA having to soak farmers for these new registration fees.”
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