Scotland’s crop sector produces quality crops to feed our nation and beyond and although crop land only occupies approximately 10% of Scotland’s agricultural land area, it accounts for over a third of Scotland’s agricultural output. There has been significant improvement in compliance with environmental legislation in recent years. We want to build on this success, working in partnership with major stakeholders to help ready the sector for the future, become fully compliant and identify voluntary opportunities that benefit both farm businesses and the environment.
SEPA is committed to supporting regulated businesses during COVID-19 and following EU Exit. Whilst SEPA remains impacted by a complex and sophisticated cyber-attack the organisation continues to maintain protections for Scotland’s environment, communities and our people.
We recognise that the ability of operators to run their operations may be compromised.
We are clear we expect everyone we regulate to take all reasonable steps to remain in compliance with Scotland’s environmental laws. We expect operators to be actively preparing for the impacts of COVID-19, and ensuring that the impacts on the environment are minimised. We recognise, however, that in some cases operators may be unable to comply for reasons beyond their control.
Our regulatory response to COVID-19 public health emergency, the cyber-attack and EU exit can be found on our regulatory approach hub.
Scotland produces quality food such as cereals, potatoes and soft fruit, and the crop sector makes an important contribution to rural communities. Our plan sets out how, together with the sector, we can support the transition to a long-term sustainable industry and society that is rooted in a healthy environment. The sector has already made great progress to tackle diffuse pollution. The plan aims to build on this success, and on the good working relationship, to tackle the remaining environmental challenges and identify win-win opportunities where voluntary action can deliver benefits for farm businesses and the environment.
The principle regulations that apply to crop production that SEPA is responsible for are the Water Environment (Controlled Activities)(Scotland) Regulations 2011 (CAR). These control activities such as fertiliser spreading, cultivation and pesticide application. Many of these activities are controlled by General Binding Rules (GBRs) to which all farmers must comply. Under the CAR regulations, some producers also hold abstraction licences for irrigating crops.
Further information on other environmental regulation that relates to crop production, such as the application of materials to land, is available on page 26 of the sector plan.
Guidance materials, such as Farming & Water Scotland Know the Rules and Valuing Your Soils, help producers comply with regulations and go further (which we call beyond compliance) to improve efficiency and protect the environment.
In 2015, the First Minister pledged that Scotland would lead the way to deliver a more equal, more just world, by signing Scotland up to the United Nation (UN) Sustainable Development Goals. These global goals give us the framework to achieve real change, from eradicating poverty to ensuring a good home for us all. This vision is underpinned by SEPA’s own regulatory strategy, One Planet Prosperity, which aims to deliver environmental protection and improvement in ways which help communities and businesses thrive within the resources of our planet.
Scotland’s businesses have a critical role to play in leading Scotland’s contribution to achieving SDGs. Through our sector plans, we have identified opportunities that will work towards achieving the goals and help realise the economic benefit of increased resource efficiency, innovation and resilience.
The actions set out in the Crop production sector plan contribute towards Sustainable Development Goals 2, 3, 6, 7, 8, 9, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16 and 17.