Peatland ACTION - New approach to processing and assessing applications – March 2024

NatureScot Peatland ACTION - New approach to processing applications (FY 2024-2025)

Information on this page relates to NatureScot Peatland ACTION funding. 

Due to the anticipated high level of demand for Peatland ACTION funding and to ensure optimum return for 2024 / 2025 budget our current approach of assessing applications on a first come first served basis is no longer appropriate.  To help manage this demand and maximise the amount of peatland restoration we have introduced a competitive funding process for this year. 

  • Deadline for NatureScot Peatland ACTION applications is 31 May 2024. 
  • Initial decisions on these applications will be made by the end of June 2024. 

To lessen the time required to draft and submit an application, we will accept cost information based on estimates.  Only those applications subsequently selected for approval will require a formal tender exercise to be completed.  Final decisions on approvals will be based on this exercise. 

All other application requirements will remain as currently set out in our guidance.

This approach will allow all those who can meet the application deadline an equal opportunity to access the funding that will be available. Our focus is on supporting those projects which allow us to maximise the area of peatland restored and minimise any risks to delivery.

To help us select projects we are sharing our internal assessment guidelines. These are set out below.  We have been using these assessment guidelines internally to assess the quality and value of applications over the last few years. The only change is that we will now use these guidelines to compare projects against each other in a competitive way.  This will allow us to select applications that deliver high quality restoration and help us maximise the outcomes from peatland restoration in Scotland while being affordable within the available budget.

Once applications are received, they will be subject to an initial assessment. This will identify a suite of projects which we will then request fully tendered costs, if these haven’t already been submitted.

NatureScot Peatland ACTION - Criteria for assessing applications for 2024/25

NatureScot Peatland ACTION - Criteria for assessing applications for 2024/25

Includes consideration of value for money, the opportunity for attracting other sources of finance, and the level of risk attached to project delivery within specified timescales.

Assessment of value for money and scale

Cost/ha (£) 
What will it cost per hectare to deliver this project? This simple calculation is based on the total PA funding requested/ha.
3 = 0-1,500
2 = 1,501-2,500 
1 = 2,501-5,000 
0 = 5,000+
Value for money
To what extent do the overall project costs demonstrate value for money when considered alongside similar / comparable projects?
3 = Very good
2 = Good
1 = Reasonable
0 = Poor
Financial Contribution
Does the project include a financial contribution to the upfront project delivery costs?  This includes any cash contribution that reduces the level of funds requested from Peatland ACTION.
3 = >20%
2 =>10%
1 = >5%
0 = 0%
Restoration size
What scale of delivery will this project achieve?
3 = >500 ha
2 = >250 ha
1 = >100 ha
0 = <100ha

Assessments of risks

To what degree do any elements of the project pose a risk to the planned timescale for delivery?
3 = Very low
2 = Low risk
1 = Medium risk
0 = High risk 
Other risks
How significant are 'Other risks' after mitigation?
Protected Species/PSRA/Scheduled Monuments/Powerlines/Drinking Water Catchments/Permissions (Designated sites/PDR)/Peatland Code
3 = Low / No risk
2 = Majority low
1 = Majority medium
0 = Unmitigated / High
Herbivore impacts
What are the herbivore risks after mitigation?
3 = Very low
2 = Low risk
1 = Medium risk
0 = High risk
Restoration Technique
Are the techniques described appropriate for the site and in line with the technical compendium?
3 = Wholly
2 = Mostly
1 = Partly
0 = No
Restoration coverage
Has the restoration plan addressed all the features of erosion and damage?
3 = Wholly
2 = Mostly
1 = Partly
0 = No
Do the restoration techniques raise the water table across the whole hydrological peatland unit?
3 = Wholly
2 = Mostly
1 = Partly
0 = No

NatureScot Peatland ACTION – Timeline for processing applications 2024/25

NatureScot Peatland ACTION – Timeline for processing applications 2024/25

The receipt deadline (31 May 2024) for applications to the NatureScot Peatland ACTION fund has now passed. 

We recognise the effort required to develop projects to this stage.   Thank you to all those who submitted applications. 

We are now progressing to the next stage of the process and as of 3 June we will be working to the indicative timeline set out below. There are dates of particular importance that we would like to highlight to applicants, agents, and contractors which relate specifically to the tendering phase (if projects have been submitted with estimated costs).

Starting w/c 3 June Peatland ACTION will complete an initial assessment of all the applications received. The outcome of this assessment will be the identification of a list of prioritised projects. These projects will be asked to move to the tender phase (only applications based on estimated costs). We will inform you if your project has been prioritised by 14th June.  At that point you need to commence your tender exercise(s), using PCS, and provide Peatland ACTION with the updated cost information by 19 July. We recognise this is a relatively tight turnaround, but it is required if we are to allow sufficient time to complete the remainder of the process as planned and issue contracts in time for work to commence as early as possible in the Autumn.




31 May 2024

Application deadline – fully applications must be submitted by midnight on 31 May 2024.

We will not accept applications received after this time.

Your application will be scored on the basis of the information submitted alone. We are unable to make requests for missing information and we will not accept information submitted after the deadline. 

W/C 3 June 2024

Initial assessment exercise completed by Peatland ACTION team.

W/C 10 June 2024

List of prioritised projects identified.

Applicants with projects on this list will be contacted and asked to commence the tender exercise if their application is based on estimated costs.

Projects will need to be tendered using the PCS portal.  You might find it helpful to familiarise yourself with PCS in advance so that you are quickly able to upload your project.  You will need to register as a buyer (see notes below for help and advice.)

Applications not progressing to the prioritised list will be informed of next steps.

19 July 2024

Applicant deadline for submitting tendered project costs.  We are unable to offer any flexibility on this deadline.

From 22 July 2024

Assessment for all projects will be finalised.

Projects will be ranked and the package of affordable projects finalised.

W/C 5 August 2024

SG notified of approved package of projects.

Successful applicants contacted to confirm application has been approved and funding offer to follow.  Funding team commence issuing grant offers.

Unsuccessful applicants contacted.


PCS portal - the portal has a range of information and support guides as well as a dedicated Customer Service Team that can be contacted by email or telephone. The details are available at Public Contracts Scotland. 

Important: To use the PCS portal, you will first need to register free as a ‘buyer’ via the PCS portal: Public Contracts Scotland - Register as a buyer. If you have any difficulty registering as a non-public body, you should email the PCS Customer Services Team confirming you are applying to Peatland ACTION, funded by Scottish Government, and are required to use the portal.

NatureScot Peatland ACTION - Application process FAQ's

General questions 

Q Why has NatureScot Peatland ACTION moved to this process. Will this impact applications through LLTNPA/CNPA?
A:  NatureScot’s Peatland ACTION programme is currently receiving a very high level of demand for the funding of peatland restoration projects. Its is important that we provide those applying with an opportunity to compete for these funds. It is also our duty to ensure the best use of the public funding that is available. In response, we have developed this new process in order to:

-    provide opportunities for all applicants. 
-    maximise the benefit that we get from our funding investment.
-    minimise the amount of risk attached to funded projects.
-    fund projects that best help us reach our targets. 

Potential and current applicants within the National Park boundaries should refer to the most recent guidance provided by Loch Lomond & the Trossachs National Park Authority and Cairngorm National Park Authority as appropriate to their location. 

Q: Will this impact Peatland ACTION annual or overall targets?
A:   No – we will continue to work with land managers to develop a pipeline of projects for future years and will continue to seek new and innovative solutions to continue delivering peatland restoration at scale and at pace.

Questions about application processes

Q: Will Peatland ACTION still be accepting applications?
A: Prior to the announcement of the current application window (31 May 2024) Peatland ACTION applications had been accepted at any time of year and considered on a rolling basis. Looking ahead there will be key dates where applications will be considered so applicants will need to ensure completed paperwork is submitted to Peatland ACTION in time. Any future deadlines, will be publicised and discussed with any interested parties when they first enquire about a peatland restoration project. Applicants should consider how their proposed project meets the criteria for funding and prepare any required evidence and materials ahead of the next deadline. 

Q: Is this an annual deadline? / When will project next be assessed?
A: We have not yet confirmed the ongoing deadlines for applications. The first deadline will be 31 May 2024, this and any future deadlines will be publicised and discussed with any interested parties when they first enquiry about a peatland restoration project.

Q: What will the criteria be for choosing which projects to fund? Size of project; severity of damage; value for money; location; time frame; quality of application?
A: The criteria for assessing application in financial year 2024-2025 includes consideration of value for money, the opportunity for attracting other sources of finance, and the level of risk attached to project delivery within specified timescales. The full detail can be found online: 

Please ensure applications are completed with all the questions fully and clearly answered. With such a significant demand your application will be assessed on the information provided as we will be unable to make requests for missing information.

Q: How will multi-year projects be compared to single year projects?
A: All projects will be considered based on the total area size and total project cost. Multi-year projects will be based on the whole project area for the entire project length, even if this is spread out over multiple years. 

Q: Will there be a consideration of scoring projects based on geographical spread?
A: All projects will be scored equally and no distinction will be made based on geographical spread.

Q: Will you honour all the applications that have already been submitted, even if they haven’t yet been approved? 
A: Any applications which have already been approved will not be affected by this change. Any applications that have not yet been approved will be assessed along with all other projects received by the 31 May deadline.

Q: Will you honour applications that have already been started but not yet submitted?
A: Applications that have not yet been submitted to NatureScot Peatland ACTION will be assessed with all other applications assuming they are received by the 31 May 2024.  

Q: How quickly will we know whether an application has been successful after the deadline?
A: We will have a two stage process this year. Firstly, an initial assessment stage. This will be followed by a more detailed secondary assessment stage. After the first phase, applicants whose projects remain in the process will be asked to submit tendered costs if not already provided. Once all project costs have been received the second stage assessment will be complete. Those projects selected at the second stage will be awarded funding. We are currently planning on informing applicants about the results of stage one and two by the 14th June and 6th August respectively. 

Q: Will applicants get feedback on why the application has been unsuccessful?
A: Yes. Peatland ACTION will provide feedback to unsuccessful applications to allow the application to be refined/revised as appropriate and, if required, resubmitted in a subsequent year.

Q: What happens if my project is not awarded funding?
A: We recognise the amount of preparation work required to bring projects to the application stage and we want to support these if funding becomes available.  Projects that meet the assessment guidelines but are not successful in this round of funding will be put on a reserve list. We will endeavour to identify funding so that projects in reserve can progress in future.  

Q: Will there be an appeal process?
A: There will not be an appeal process. Peatland ACTION will provide feedback to unsuccessful applications to allow the application to be refined/revised as appropriate and, if required, resubmitted in a subsequent year.

Questions on funds / finance / costs

Q: What is meant by blended / private finance? 
A: Public investment in peatland restoration has been increased over recent years but remains below what is needed to restore Scotland’s peatlands at a scale that meets current demand. Public funds currently available will not be sufficient to achieve our wider restoration goals and so it needs to be supplemented through other means. This could include private investors seeking returns via the Voluntary Carbon Market, corporate social responsibility initiatives or philanthropic donations. There are potential options for individuals, businesses or investment firms to privately finance peatland restoration.

Tendering / Contractor questions

Q: What qualifies as a financial contribution?
A: Only upfront cash contributions will be accepted as eligible financial contributions to bring down overall project costs.  In-kind contributions will not be eligible.

Q: Will there be a direct conflict with financial contributions for Peatland Code and that requested by Peatland Action?
A: Peatland Action funds the actual project costs for the delivery of the restoration, whereas Peatland Code is for the long term maintenance of the site after re-wetting. As these are two different schemes, there is no conflict in contributions. 

Q: Will projects be re-scored if tendered costs are vastly different from estimated costs?
A: Yes, projects will be re-scored if the actual costs are different from the estimated costs. 

Q: How will projects with actual costs be compared to those with estimated costs?
A: Those projects with estimated costs, if it meets the scoring threshold, will be invited to tender works. Evidence must be provided to demonstrate an open and competitive process has been undertaken using PCS.

Q: How will this impact the tendering process if work is not guaranteed at the end?
A: In order to reduce the timeline for developing applications we are accepting those with estimates costs for this deadline. Those that remain in the process after the stage one assessment will need to provide tendered costs at that time. This is at risk to some, as not all applications that process to the second stage will receive funding.  Those requested to proceed with tendering will need to submit tendered costs by 19 July 2024, at the latest. 

Q: Will this result in demand for contractors being more concentrated at certain times of year, driving up costs by increasing demand?
A: No – peatland restoration will continue to support projects scheduled throughout the year. Our Bird Breeding Guidance has allowed us to increase the season during which active restoration work can be carried out – this will not change as a result of the introduction of an application deadline.

Background and information

We also continue to welcome multi year applications which plan work across the seasons in future years.

Finally, we also have carried approximately 4,000ha of restoration work into the current year enabling contactors to work through all seasons, restrictions, e.g. breeding birds, permitting.


Peatland ACTION Partnership

Scotland is on track to restore 10,000ha of peatland in 2023/24.  This is a fantastic achievement and represents a year-on-year increase of around 20% over the last couple of years.  This illustrates the growing confidence, maturity and momentum behind peatland restoration as a new industry based on a strong partnership between landowners, contractors, agents, Scottish Government, NatureScot and other Delivery Partners.

At the same time as increasing the hectare output this year, we have been laying strong foundations for increasing the pipeline of projects for future demand.  We now have many more landowners coming forward with proposals for peatland restoration.  

Indeed, our ability to commit to projects in advance and use the new protocol to allow operations in the bird breeding season has led to 90% of the 2024/25 Partnership budget being assigned to projects already.  This is providing certainty for contractors – to allow them to better plan their work throughout the year – and this demand has resulted in a pipeline of designed projects that we can use to attract wider funding and investment. 

While we still have a lot more to do in order to meet the ambitious target to restore 250,000ha by 2030, peatland restoration is a success story – it is successfully addressing the three key constraints – to increase demand, streamline and improve design, and increase capacity and skills to deliver.

Peatland ACTION funding arrangements for the National Parks

Potential and current applicants within the National Park boundaries

If your peatland restoration project is located within either of Scotland’s National Parks visit their websites or contact the relevant national park Peatland ACTION Team to discuss your proposals:  

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