Future Scottish Agriculture support framework (Agriculture Bill)

CIfA is working to lobby Scottish Government ahead of the publication of its draft Agriculture Bill later this summer (2023). Across each of the UK Governments, CIfA is committed to ensuring that the management and protection of the historic environment through agri-environment and other land management processes is maintained or improved.

This position is supported by Built Environment Forum Scotland (BEFS), National Trust for Scotland (NTS), ALGAO:Scotland, Archaeology Scotland, and the Landscape Institute who, together with CIfA are asking Scottish Government to include the historic environment on the face of the new Agriculture Bill, and open discussions about how to integrate the historic environment into the scheme in a way that will help achieve positive benefits for biodiversity and climate goals, and also improve the understanding of and outcomes for the historic environment.

Key points:

Scotland’s landscape has been shaped by people for over 9000 years. The legacy of human habitation and cultivation of the landscape surrounds us, with present day farmers and land managers acting as stewards of our heritage.

  • Over 80% of Scotland’s 8200 scheduled monuments are located on agricultural land.
  • Across virtually every farm, a tapestry of mostly undesignated historic features, field boundaries, routeways, buildings, sites, and monuments visually tell the story of Scotland’s past.
  • The condition of many of these sites is deteriorating as a result of natural processes like erosion or scrub damage, or as a result of agricultural processes, like grazing or ploughing.
  • Scotland is being left behind by other UK nations.
    • In England, 40% of scheduled monuments are under active management as a result of agri-environment schemes. In Scotland, it is less than 1%.
    • Both the Westminster Agriculture Act (2021) and Agriculture (Wales) Bill include cultural heritage on the face of the legislation as one of several areas which Ministers are empowered to fund through conditional payments to farmers.

What could be achieved?

There are many ways that public benefits resulting from the integration of the historic environment into the future agriculture support framework, some of which would cost very little.

The inclusion of heritage in Whole Farm Plans alone would enable farmers to map historic features and heritage assets on their land. Light touch reporting requirements (eg to provide photographs of historic features) could improve Historic Environment Records and create a new resource condition monitoring.

Funding options could be levered to ensure the protection of field boundaries, maintain heritage assets in favourable condition, or increase access to and interpretation of sites. Larger capital investment could target the re-use of historic building as economic assets, or heritage-led business opportunities.

All these options rest on the scoping for agricultural support that will be set out in the new Agriculture Bill. We need to secure a mention for the historic environment on the face of the Bill and open discussions with officials who are already at work designing the new scheme.

Our asks:

  1. Include a reference to the historic environment on the face of the Agriculture Bill, following the example of the Agriculture (Wales) Bill and Westminster Agriculture Act.

  2. Begin discussions with Historic Environment Scotland and relevant sector bodies to scope opportunities to develop appropriate inclusion of the historic environment as part of Scotland’s new approach to the future agriculture support framework.

How can you help?

CIfA members living in Scotland can help us by writing to their MSPs to raise this issue and asking them to speak with us. You may wish to share this briefing.

For more information, see the resources on writing to your representatives here, or contact rob.lennox@archaeologists.net.