Environmental guidance for your business in Northern Ireland & Scotland
Farmers must meet cross compliance requirements to claim payments under the single farm payment scheme (SFPS) in Northern Ireland and Scotland. The SFPS is an agricultural subsidy scheme for farmers.
To receive these payments, and payments under some other rural schemes, you must maintain certain standards on public, animal and plant health, the environment and animal welfare on your farm. This includes conserving habitats and managing soil and water.
The standards for cross compliance are:
The SMRs relate to areas of public, animal and plant health, environment and animal welfare.
Your environmental regulator or payment authority could inspect your farm to check you are complying. If you do not meet the requirements for cross compliance you may not receive part or all of your SFPS payments.
You must comply with the GAEC conditions to claim your SFPS payments. The environmental GAEC conditions require you to manage your soil, conserve habitats and protect water against pollution and run-off, and manage the use of water.
There are different GAECs for Northern Ireland and Scotland.
Manage your soils
Good soil management is one of the main requirements of the GAEC conditions.
In Northern Ireland and Scotland you must protect your soils from erosion, maintain soil organic matter and protect soil structure.
Scottish Government: GAECs for soil erosion
Comply with water abstraction regulations
A new GAEC requirement was introduced in 2010, for farmers and land managers who abstract water for irrigation. If you already have a water abstraction licence you must comply with its conditions. If you abstract water and don't have a licence, check if you need to get one in our guidance on water use and abstraction for farmers.
Since January 2014 the Protection of Groundwater against Pollution requirement, has moved from SMR to being GAEC. The aim of the requirements is to protect groundwater against pollution by controlling the discharge or disposal of hazardous substances or non-hazardous pollutants.
Guidance on GAECs
If you are a farmer or land manager and you manage your land well, you may be able to receive money from agri-environment schemes. The aims of agri-environment schemes are to:
There are different schemes in Northern Ireland and Scotland.
Northern Ireland agri-environment schemes
The Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (DARD) in Northern Ireland is responsible for the administration of a wide range of grants and subsidy schemes to support the local farming and fisheries industries.
Scotland agri-environment climate schemes
The scheme supports environmentally friendly land management practices that aim to safeguard and improve Scotland’s natural heritage and help businesses adapt to climate change.
The Northern Ireland Environment Agency has published a short guide to the duty of care responsibilities including advice and information for waste producers, carriers and those accepting, storing and treating waste.
Any person intending to alter the use or management of areas of uncultivated or semi-natural land must obtain prior approval from the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA).
Read more on the DAERA website
The NetRegs team at SEPA, in partnership with The Northern Ireland Environment Agency, Natural Resources Wales and a number of industry bodies have produced 9 new GPPs to replace out of date PPGs. More are coming! Check the available topics
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