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Richard Lochhead in negotiations with Defra – Animal Health budgets could be devolved to Scotland from April next year.
During a meeting with the Defra Ministerial team earlier today, Richard Lochhead agreed that both administrations would continue to work together to develop plans which could result in the Scottish Government taking control of the Animal Health budget from April 2011.
Some progress was also made towards ensuring that Scotland’s case is more clearly represented in Europe with the Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs and the Environment stressing the greater significance agriculture and maritime issues have on the Scottish economy in comparison to other UK administrations.
Mr Lochhead said:
“These were very constructive first meetings with the UK Defra team during which they gained a clear understanding of the importance of the European decision making process to Scottish communities.
“I am confident that further progress will be made in securing a stronger voice in Europe as this new relationship matures.
“We have agreed to continue discussions on the devolution of the animal health budget with a view to devolving control of that budget in the next financial year. This is something I have fought for and this is a positive move which will be warmly welcomed by agricultural stakeholders.”
The Cabinet Secretary will work closely with the Defra team to put together a detailed proposal before final decisions are made.