April 24, 2008

Equestrian business proprietors and the managers and owners of land dedicated to equine use have been urged to have a close look at the opportunities posed by Scotland's £1.6bn ($NZ3.98bn) rural development programme.

Scottish riding school and livery yard proprietors were told at the British Horse Society Scotland Conference that the Scotland Rural Development Programme aimed to be "all embracing and available to any individual business, properly constituted group or land based manager in possession of a secure tenancy".

Mary Munro, Senior Consultant of SAC Farm Business Services, made a presentation on the SRDP at the conference.

"The SRDP offers a huge selection of items and packages for increasing the viability of businesses and will readily accept applications from non-farming businesses," she said.

A complex mixture of measures and strategic objectives, the SRDP brings together a wide range of formerly separate schemes covering rural enterprise, farming, tourism, forestry, business development and primary processing. It focuses on social and economic goals with the view of helping the Scottish Government achieve a wealthier, fairer and greener Scotland.

BHS Scotland Development Officer, Helene Mauchlen said: "The horse is a major economic driver in rural Scotland. Each equine on average delivers more than £1600 into the local economy per annum by the time its feed, farriery, livery, training and keep costs are taken into account.

"We would urge equine businesses to take this opportunity to increase their viability by looking seriously at this opportunity and to show their interest with projects that deliver the objectives and set the ball rolling with the online application process, taking into account regional priorities.

"The BHS approval schemes, codes of conduct and information on multi use access and animal welfare are all available to back up equestrian applications, so feel free to contact BHS Scotland for quality assurance, equine welfare and health and safety support."