Economic Valuation Aberdeenshire

Description of valuation study conducted – DEMAND

We carried out choice experiments with members of the public living in and around the Ugie river catchment (Aberdeenshire and Aberdeen city) to understand peoples preferences with regards to improvements in water condition and farmland biodiversity. Water quality was described in terms of ecological condition, and participants valued avoiding a single step decline in condition of all water bodies or achieving a single step improvement in all water bodies, compared to the current level. Farmland bird diversity was described in terms of number of bird species expected on farmland, from 15 (business as usual, decline) to 20 (current level) and 25 (improved level). Cost of these improvements was presented as an increase in council tax. Participants were recruited through an online panel, with a final sample size of 313.

PG valuation results – DEMAND

The general public surveyed in the area surrounding our hotspot showed a positive willingness to pay for improving water quality and farmland bird diversity. Willingness to pay to avoid decline in water quality was estimated at £46.89/household/year, and to improve water quality £104.43/household/year. To avoid decline to 15 bird species willingness to pay was estimated at £21.37/household/year, and to improve to 25 bird species £44.83/household/year. Willingness to pay was somewhat sensitive to sociodemographic characteristics, with older respondents and those living within NE Aberdeenshire having a higher willingness to pay for farmland biodiversity. Willingness to pay for water quality was higher in those respondents with familiarity with the area. Surprisingly environmental awareness had conflicting impacts on willingness to pay, having a positive impact on willingness to pay for farmland biodiversity, but a negative impact on water quality.

 

Description of valuation study conducted – SUPPLY

Deliberative discussions were held with farmers within the Ugie river catchment to identify preferred agri-environment measure, and their willingness to accept compensation for this measure. Further discussion was carried out to identify the factors which determined willingness to accept. Though the focus was on water quality and farmland biodiversity, measures were discussed for their general ability to improve public good provision and environmental quality on the farm.

PG valuation results – SUPPLY

Factors influencing willingness to accept compensation for agri-environment measures could be grouped into: 1) Farm specific characteristics (e.g. size, number of habitats). 2) Characteristics of the specific measure (e.g. planting hedgerows or leaving winter stubble). 3) Characteristics of governance mechanisms and how it is implemented (e.g. paperwork, risk). Farmers particularly highlighted that payments reliant on the number of ‘points’ acquired reduced favourability of the scheme due to the risk that not enough points would be earned, or that eligibility would change during the scheme. Perceptions of schemes as ‘policing’ rather than encouraging also increased the compensation farmers were willing to accept.