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An Assessment of the Likely Effectiveness of the SRDP Programme 2007-2013 in Delivering for the Environment

Research Funding Body

Royal Society for the Protection of Birds

Project Objectives

To Develop an understanding of the likely effectiveness of the SRDP in delivering for the environment.

Why relevant to improve implementation and uptake of water quality measures

This projects includes an assessment of the barriers to uptake SRDP measures.


Qualitative stakeholder views through semi-structured interviews. Stakeholder groups included: consultants (SAC and others); Administrators (Case Officers, Regional Programme Assessment Committees and SNH), representative bodies (NFUS, highlands and Islands Enterprise, Scottish Crofting Federation), Government agencies (SEPA, SCF, SNH) and other interested NGOs (National Trust of Scotland, Butterfly Conservation). Responses were collected from a total of 58 SRDP stakeholders.

Key Results

  • Rural Priorities is the most significant scheme within SRDP and has considerable scope for delivering environmental benefits. Stakeholder responses indicate that other SRDP schemes have some potential for delivering environmental benefits but are not currently considered to be doing so. There is currently greater lack of knowledge about the deployment and effectiveness of Land Managers Options (LOMs) than there is of Rural Priorities options.
  • A key concern is that high rural development spend distribution does not match the High Nature Value (HNV) utilisable area. This raises concern about the purpose and associated underlying logic of SRDP.
  • The high spend options reflect: a) easy implementation and fit with existing farm management or b) very attractive payment rates. Although highest spend and highest uptake options do not always match due to the high payment associated with some option.
  • High committed spend areas were thought to be associated with a high number of active agents, a long standing culture of entering into management agreements and a mixed farming system that easily allows it.
  • Factors important for effective delivery of environmental benefits from options are, according to stakeholders: i) targeting (at the landscape and farm scale);ii) scale (spread); iii) land manager attitude and cultural issues; iv) after care and monitoring; v) availability of advice.
  • The packaging of options is seen as positive for delivering environmental benefits.
  • Key barriers for achieving environmental outcomes for Rural Priority Scheme were thought to be: i) assessment process, specifically the role, time resources, skills and autonomy of case officers; ii) regionalization and targeting of resources, specifically local targeting or resources and options against specified desired outcomes and regional autonomy; iii) advice provision.
  • The Rural Priorities scheme was thought to likely be effective where: i) land owners are proactively encouraged, ii) used in targeted areas, iii) delivered with adequate support; iv) delivered at landscape scale (encouraging collaboration); v) based on a partnership approach between agents, NGOs, land managers and case officer.
  • Stakeholder views on positive aspects of Rural Priorities options for the future are: i) good option provision, ii) moving to a regionalized system, iii) increased flexibility of options, iii) moving to a more outcomes based approach, iv) closer working between delivery agencies; v) involvement of specialist advisors, vi) moving towards more landscape scale/complimentary management approaches.
  • Improvements that could be made include: i) improved delivery of environmental benefits from all SRDPS schemes to alleviate the pressure on the Rural Priority scheme; ii) improvements to the targeting of the Rural Priorities scheme (including better regionalization and local targeting of resources); iii) improved resourcing of case officers (expansion of their role, autonomy and skills); iv) include after care services; v) improved ecological monitoring, vi) increased transparency.



Contact Person

Amy Corrigan (

Further Information

Project Information
Project Type: 
Active Project


Areas of Interest

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The James Hutton Research Institute is the result of the merger in April 2011 of MLURI and SCRI. This merger formed a new powerhouse for research into food, land use, and climate change.