Deadline extension as questions remain over cabinet hot-seat

Richard Lochhead is tipped to be replaced as rural affairs secretary. Picture: Ian Rutherford
Richard Lochhead is tipped to be replaced as rural affairs secretary. Picture: Ian Rutherford
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Scottish farmers look set to have the proposed extension of the deadline for submitting their single application forms – which will give them until 15 June to complete the annual form-filling exercise – given the green light later today.

If confirmed, the option, which was offered to member states by the EU last week, will give those who have been encountering problems – many of which revolve around glitches in new mapping requirements – an extra month to complete applications. Such a move follows a similar extension last year in the wake of problems with the new IT system.

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Due to the short timescale available to grant the extension, the decision will be taken ahead of any announcement on who will be the new Scottish Government’s rural affairs cabinet secretary – sources yesterday suggested that that decision could be as late as next week.

With Richard Lochhead, who has held the position for the past nine years, widely tipped to be replaced following serious discontent over the implementation of the recent common agricultural policy reforms – and a much-reduced constituency majority – industry commentators have failed to identify an obvious replacement.

Aileen MacLeod, environment and land reform minister during the last administration, had been tipped for promotion but failed to secure her seat.