NFU Scotland backs review of daylight savings time

Clockface NFU Scotland said the time was right for a full, independent analysis of any time change

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Scotland's farming lobby is backing proposals for a review of daylight savings time, despite reservations over the impact of moving UK clocks forward.

The move by NFU Scotland came as the UK government said it was considering moving the UK's clocks forward by an hour for a three-year trial period.

The announcement was in response to the Daylight Savings Private Member's Bill put forward by a Tory MP.

It calls for a review of the potential costs and benefits of such a step.

The bill also calls for a trial period if the review recommends it.

NFU Scotland said it was "nervous of the potential impacts" of the UK adopting Central European Time, with BST plus one hour in summer and GMT plus one in winter.

But it added it felt the time was right for a full, independent analysis.

The Scottish government, however, said its "established position" was that there was no case for a change to existing arrangements

In a statement, NFU Scotland said it supported the bill put forward by Tory MP Rebecca Harris in order "to move the discussion forward".

Start Quote

The three-year period of grace being proposed in the bill before permanent adoption still offers a chance to reflect on what is best for the nation”

End Quote NFU Scotland

It continued: "This proposes in-depth analysis of the impact of any change - a key concern for Scotland - before any permanent change to the clocks is proposed or adopted.

"Even if the analysis concludes that the move to Central European Time is in the country's interest, the three-year period of grace being proposed in the bill before permanent adoption still offers a chance to reflect on what is best for the nation."

NFU Scotland argued that the relevance today of information generated from the last time the UK experimented with a change in the clocks in 1968-71 was "questionable".

It added: "The effect on agriculture of changing the clocks by an hour has reduced over the years but it is important to bear in mind that regardless of what the actual time is on the clock, there are only a set number of daylight hours available to farmers in any one day, during which they still have to carry out the bulk of their daily work and enjoy some social life.

"The impact of any change to daylight saving time will not be uniform across the UK, so we need to analyse the particular Scottish impacts of such a change and the success of the planned private member's bill may provide that platform."

Consensus sought

UK ministers are writing to counterparts in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland to seek a UK-wide consensus on a three-year trial.

Whitehall sources have suggested that Scotland - which has long opposed a change - will get an "absolute veto" on the proposals.

Responding to the move, the Scottish government said it welcomed the UK government's commitment to consult devolved administrations formally and to introduce changes only if consensus emerged from that process.

However, it added: "The Scottish government's established position is that there is no case for a change to existing arrangements."

The UK government opposed the bill when it had its second reading last December on the grounds it made no provision for consultation with Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

But the Department for Business is now tabling amendments relating to the devolved nations which it says will allow Westminster to support it.

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