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Rural Payments Agency publishes guidance about hedges

View profile for Paul Burkinshaw
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Rural Payments Agency publishes guidance about hedges

The ongoing problems faced by land owners in relation to hedges has been addressed by the Rural Payments Agency which has published new guidance titled 'How to Check and Change your Hedge Information'.

The guidance reminds farms to check the information about hedges that is shown on their digital maps in the Rural Payment Service. If a party intends to use hedges to form part of an application or claim, the Ordinance Survey (“OS”) data held by the Rural Payments Agency should be checked before the application or claim is submitted. There are ongoing instances where hedges are not identified or, conversely, features are mistakenly identified as hedges. Where errors in data are identified form RE1 and a sketch map can be submitted where hedges are being used for:

  • Part of the ecological focus area (“EFA”) greening requirement for Basic Payment Scheme (“BPS”) (hedges also include trees in a line for BPS)
  • Applying to join the Countryside Stewardship (“CS”) scheme, under options BE3 (management of hedgerows), BN5 (hedgerow laying) or BN6 (hedgerow coppicing)
  • Submitting a claim against an existing CS Agreement under option BE3 (management of hedgerows)

The RLE1 form is separate and additional to any similar form used to claim BPS or CS payment. The guidance once again, despite the delays that have been encountered on their end reminds farmers that their claims for payment should be submitted first and on time. Claims should be accurate so far as possible, and reflect what is on the ground. The separate RLE1 form and sketch map to correct hedge information should be submitted as soon as possible thereafter. The RPA suggests that they will check for outstanding RLE1 forms before processing BPS or CS applications, or CS claims.

It remains to be seen whether this will in itself cause delay.

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