Peatland ACTION - New approach to processing applications – March 2024

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

 A new approach to processing NatureScot Peatland ACTION applications will take effect from March 2024 the details of which are outlined on this web page.

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.

NatureScot Peatland ACTION

NatureScot is evolving its approach to supporting peatland restoration in response to this maturing market and the growing demand for support.  It is seeking to maximise the return from uncommitted funds for 2024-25 – approximately £3m - as well as looking at different approaches that could be introduced in the longer term – to programme works for future years and maximise the amount of peatland restoration.

For this, we are moving into a more competitive approach and introducing a new prioritised way of assessing funding for Peatland Action projects.  We will:

1. Focus our support on projects already included in our pipeline/known demand.

These are projects Peatland ACTION have already engaged with and have undertaken some level of project development to date.


2. Introduce a deadline for new applications of 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.


3. Maximise the area of peatland restored from the available budget.

We are developing criteria for assessing applications in this new ‘competitive’ environment.  This aims to ensure we continue to support quality projects across the whole of Scotland and to maximise the benefits delivered.  These criteria will be confirmed by the end of April but will include 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.

This means that not all projects will automatically be eligible for funding.  We are looking for ways to reduce the cost of peatland restoration, so that our budget can deliver the maximum number of hectares possible.

For further information please contact [email protected]

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