Scotland ploughs £50m into food security and climate research

The Scottish Government has announced it will be investing £48m for innovative scientific research in the agriculture and environmental sectors in an effort to strengthen global challenges such as food security and climate change.

Innovation projects and research dedicated to Scotland’s natural assets and food, health & wellbeing will receive financial support as the nation continues to celebrate its Year of Innovation, Architecture and Design.

Scottish Government Rural Affairs Secretary Richard Lochhead said: “Scotland is globally renowned as a land of science and innovation, and this funding will ensure we maintain our position at the very cutting edge of advances in agriculture, food and the environment.

“The Scottish Government continues to be a major funder of research in these fields, investing almost £50m a year in research into crop science, animal health and welfare, human health and wellbeing and global challenges like food security and climate change.

“Our continued support will ensure Scotland will remain at the forefront of ground-breaking advances that have the potential to transform farming and food production in this country and across the world – building on the successes already achieved.”

The main beneficiaries of the Scottish Government funding include farming research centre the James Hutton Institute, which will receive £21m, and Scotland’s Rural College, which will be awarded £7.3m to spend on agriculture consultation and research.

Land-based science

The Scottish Government has previously funded a variety of developments in environment knowledge and technology. Former projects include revolutionary research into methane from cattle to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from agriculture, and partnerships with national and international food companies ensure lower salt, fat and sugar levels in existing products.

Scotland’s Chief Scientific Adviser for Rural Affairs and the Environment Louise Heathwaite added: “The Scottish Government continues to prioritise and fund strategic science that delivers the evidence base to support policy needs in the rural affairs, food and environment portfolio. Much of this research is delivered through the Scottish research institutes, and has allowed Scotland to build an enviable and unrivalled national capability in land-based science in terms of research platforms, critical infrastructures and skilled people.

“This national capability benefits the whole Scotland, adding value through partnerships with other research funders such as the UK Research Councils and the EU; with other areas of scientific expertise in Universities; and with users of science such as the farming community.”

Energy efficiency

In related sustainable development news from the Scottish Government this week, it has announced that for the first time housing associations will be able to apply for interest-free loans to make their homes cheaper to keep warm.

The £14m Home Energy Efficiency Programme Scotland (HEEPS) Loan Scheme could benefit up to 4,000 Scottish households with the money used to help meet the cost of installing energy efficiency measures such as internal and external wall insulation.

Last year the HEEPS scheme saved about £8m in fuel bills, covering 30,000 households. Since 2009 the Scottish Government has allocated more than £500m on a raft of measures to help residents across the country affordably heat their homes.

Scottish Housing Minister Margaret Burgess said: “For the first time the HEEPS loans scheme will be open to housing associations. This will help ensure their homes meet the higher standards for energy efficiency that have been set by the Scottish Government.

George Ogleby

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