As the application window for BPS claims has now opened, it is important that farmers and agents alike ensure that the claim they submit reflects exactly what is taking place on the ground. Large areas of the South West have been re-mapped by the RPA as part of the ongoing national re-mapping programme. This re-mapping has used satellite imagery to determine boundary locations and permanent ineligible features. As a result of this, claimants will notice that parcel sizes and eligible areas will have changed from last year. Although these changes are unlikely to be substantial, it is important that the claimant or agent fully inspects the up-to-date RPA plans and the supporting land use table, making sure that the information held by the RPA represents exactly the situation on the ground as at the 15th May. The previous mapping data held by the RPA, including RLE1 changes that had been submitted in previous claim year, appears to have been eradicated from the online system. This means that where farmers have previously made notional deductions to the eligible area of a field, or have marked features that are not visible from satellites, the information has been lost and must subsequently be re-submitted to the RPA for the mapping data to be manually updated once more.
It is important therefore that everyone involved in the preparation and submission of a 2017 BPS claim should look out for these changes on the pre-populated data and cross-reference this with previous claims to establish what information the RPA hold. With just over a month left until the 15th May deadline, it is unlikely that any mapping data changes submitted to the RPA with an RLE1 form will be processed and loaded onto the online system before the 15th May deadline. It is therefore advised that as much information as possible is gathered and submitted to the RPA as supporting evidence of any mapping changes that you wish to make.
Unfortunately the teething problems experienced in the first two years of the scheme appear not to have been addressed, making a complicated process even more complex. There is no substitute for rigorous double checking and record keeping to ensure the information submitted is precise.
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