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ERDF GREEN INFRASTRUCTURE FUND – UPDATE

Derelict land in Clydebank

Phase 1 of the Green Infrastructure Fund is well underway. To date, we have awarded funding to 7 capital infrastructure projects through our Lowland & Uplands Scotland Challenge Fund and 3 projects through our Community Engagement Challenge Fund, with a further 3 community engagement projects in the pipeline.  These projects are all due to complete by the end of 2018.  £6 million of European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) money has been allocated so far, which with match funding amounts to over £18 million worth of work.  Details of the approved projects can be found on our website.

With the initial batch of projects underway, our thoughts are turning to next steps.  The purpose of this update is to let you know where that thinking has got to. 

Scottish Government’s current ERDF programme is being run in 2 Phases - Phase 1 which was set to end in 2019 and Phase 2 from 2019 to 2023.  SNH and the other Lead Partners currently only have funding approved for Phase 1.  This was done to allow the Scottish Government to review progress at the midway point and to make any necessary adjustments to the programme.  As a result of Brexit, the review was brought forward to 2017 and the results were recently announced to the Lead Partners.  The main outcomes relevant to the Green Infrastructure Fund are: 

  1. Phase 1 of the ERDF programme will be extended by a year from June 2019 to June 2020.

  2. Scottish Government will accept applications from Lead Partners in the first half of 2018 for Phase 2 of the ERDF programme (which is likely to run through until June 2023).

  3. The National Rule on Direct Staff Costs that requires staff to be 100% contracted to their ERDF funded project will be relaxed from January 2018.From that date, staff costs will be eligible provided the individual is contracted to the project for a minimum of 40% of their time. Where staff are contracted less than 100% (but more than the minimum of 40%) there will be a requirement to maintain timesheets to be submitted with each claim.Detailed guidance from Scottish Government on this change is expected by the end of the year.

  4. The intervention rate for the Highlands & Islands will be increased from 50% from 1 January 2018. This is subject to EU approval, so it is not yet known whether the increase will be to 60% or perhaps as high as 70%.This increase doesn’t apply retrospectively to funds already approved by Scottish Government, but would apply to any new offers they make for the Highlands & Islands.

This is all welcome news and in line with what SNH recommended in our own submission to the Scottish Government review team. The implications for our Green Infrastructure project will be being considered by SNH’s Senior Leadership Team and Board in the coming months.  However, subject to their approval, we have summarised below our forward plans for each of our three Challenge Funds.  The key points are that:

  • Through a competitive process, we may be able to provide some additional funding to a number of our existing Lowlands & Uplands Scotland (LUPS) Challenge Fund projects;

  • We expect to open a LUPS funding round for new projects in mid-2018;

  • We are keen to hear about any eligible projects in the Highlands & Islands; and

  • We expect to run a Green Infrastructure Community Engagement Challenge Fund (GICEF) funding round for new projects in early 2018.

 

Lowlands & Upland Scotland Challenge Fund (LUPS)

Existing approved LUPS projects

  • We will be inviting bids from our 7 approved Lowland & Uplands Scotland (LUPS) projects for any additional eligible works which can be done over the longer Phase 1 timescale.We have a remaining Phase 1 budget of £1.3 million for this, which will be allocated on a competitive basis.To be successful, the additional works must enhance the existing approved project and clearly add to the outcomes which will be achieved.  All works will need to be able to be completed by 30 September 2019 to allow time for processing of final claims, final reports etc. by the Scottish Government’s June 2020 deadline.As before, the maximum ERDF contribution for the overall project is 40% (this figure will be applied to the total of previously approved works + additional works). The additional funding will be awarded through an amendment to existing contracts.

  • Your lead contact on the GI project team will be in touch to gauge your likely interest in taking advantage of this additional Phase 1 funding.We then expect to issue guidance and open for bids in December 2017 with a deadline for submission in February, assessment in March and approval in April.

  • The Phase 1 extension does not apply to work already approved, which should still aim to complete by the current date (i.e. December 2018) unless otherwise agreed with us.However,

  • We will now be able to consider paying towards the costs of any retention / default payments to contractors relevant to the approved works which fall in 2019.(Previously these would have been ineligible because they could not have been claimed by December 2018).

  • Approved projects will be able to take advantage of the amendment in the 100% rule on staffing from 1 January 2018 through our Change Request process.However, we can’t proceed with this until the detailed guidance is available from Scottish Government later this year.Meanwhile, speak to your lead contact on the GI project team if you think you might want to do this.

New LUPS projects

  • We expect to apply to Scottish Government in the spring of 2018 for Phase 2 of our Lowlands & Uplands Scotland Challenge Fund.If approved, this will give us additional funds of approx. £7.5m to support a further 7-8 capital infrastructure projects around Scotland, bringing us up to our overall target for the Fund of 15 projects in total across both Phases.

  • As before, projects will have to be within a town or city of greater than 10,000 population, benefit a community in the most deprived 15% of the Scottish Index of Multiple Deprivation and meet other EU eligibility requirements.

  • At this stage, our indicative timescale is to open a funding round in summer 2018 with a deadline for applications to be submitted by October 2018 and decisions on funding by March 2019.Projects will have to be completed by 30 September 2022.

  • We are currently reviewing and revising our guidance and application procedures in light of experience from Phase 1, and (within the constraints of EU regulations) expect this to be a clearer, simpler and more streamlined process for applicants.

Highlands & Islands Challenge Fund (H&I)

  • We don’t currently have any projects approved in the Highlands & Islands, and therefore have £500k of phase 1 funding which remains unallocated. We would be happy to discuss any potential projects which are eligible and which could be completed by the new Phase 1 deadline of 30 September 2019. This would be at the current intervention rate for H&I of 50%.

  • We would also like to hear of any projects in H&I which might come forward for funding from 2019 onwards. The extent of likely demand will determine whether or not we apply to Scottish Government for a Phase 2 of this Fund for projects to be delivered between 2019 and 2022.Phase 2 would be at whatever higher intervention rate (60% or 70%) is agreed by the EU.

 

Green Infrastructure Community Engagement Challenge Fund (GICEF)

Existing approved GICEF projects

  • Projects already underway, should still aim to complete by the current date (i.e. December 2018) unless otherwise agreed with us.

  • Projects approved but yet to get underway should continue to discuss forward timescales and other issues with your lead contact on the GI project team.It may be possible to adjust the end date for your project to end September 2019.

  • Approved projects should be able to take advantage of the amendment in the 100% rule on staffing from 1 January 2018 through our Change Request process.  However, we can’t proceed with this until the detailed guidance is available from Scottish Government later this year.  Meanwhile, discuss with your lead contact on the GI project team if you think you might want to do this.

New GICEF projects

  • We will take advantage of the extension to the Phase 1 timescale by running a further GICEF funding round.  We are looking for a further 9 or so projects to add to the 6 already approved.  Projects will be able to start any time after June 2018 and must be completed by September 2019.

  • We expect to formally open this GICEF round for applications in January 2018 with a deadline for submission of 31 March 2018 and then complete assessment and approval by 30 May 2018.  We will be holding a number of open events and webinars to promote the Fund during the application period.

  • As with the LUPS Fund, we are currently reviewing and revising our guidance and application procedures in light of experience from the previous funding round, and (within the constraints of EU regulations) expect the application process to be clearer, simpler and more streamlined.

  • We will review the success of the Green Infrastructure Community Engagement Fund during 2019, and may apply to Scottish Government for more money to allow us to run a further funding round in 2020.

We will keep you updated on developments.   If you have any queries in the meantime get in touch with us through your existing lead contact (Martin or Elana) or through our email address:  greeninfrastructure@snh.gov.uk

 

Green Infrastructure Project team

October 2017

 

 

Explanation of some of the terms used in this update

 

Phase – this refers to Scottish Government’s phasing of the overall European Regional Development Fund programme.   There are two Phases – Phase 1 from 2015 to 2020 and Phase 2 which then runs to 2023.  Funding to Lead Partners is currently only approved for Phase1.  Lead Partners have to apply for Phase 2 funding next year.

Challenge Fund – the Green Infrastructure Strategic Intervention is being delivered through 3 separate challenge funds (Lowland & Uplands Scotland, Highlands & Islands and Community Engagement) each of which has separate pots of money approved by the Scottish Government.  The money within each fund is allocated on a competitive basis through an open application and assessment process.

Funding Round – SNH invites applications for each Challenge Fund at particular times by opening a funding round with a set deadline.  Depending upon demand, several funding rounds may be held during each Phase of the ERDF programme.

National Rules – these are the rules set for the ERDF programme by the Scottish Government to ensure that projects meet their priorities and comply with EU requirements.  A copy of the National Rules can be found here.

Change Request – this is a request to SNH to approve a significant change to the timing, costs, milestones or outcomes of a project.   It applies after a project contract has been signed.  Guidance is available from us on this. There is a separate process for approving changes to a project pre-contract.