Major errors in BPS mapping data

It has been reported today that farmers attempting to complete their 2018 Basic Payment Scheme claims are finding major errors in the mapping data held on their hedges.

The Rural Payments Agency (RPA) introduced a new “hedge layer” this year that aims to show the length and location of any hedges that are eligible to count towards their ecological focus area (EFA) obligation.

Many more farmers are set to be looking to use hedges as EFAs in 2018 because of the ban on the use of plant protection products on nitrogen-fixing crops and fallow.

However it has been reported that inaccuracies have been discovered by farmers looking at the information.

Farmer’s Weekly reported that farmers are finding land parcels where hedges do exist in real life, but do not show on the RPA’s system, along with fictitious hedges appearing where they should not be.

Others are having difficulty in getting the hedging layer information to appear at all.

Richard Wordsworth, NFU senior BPS adviser, has said the union had already flagged the issue with the RPA and was pushing for further guidance and support.

The problem was most acute for growers who were looking to use hedges to meet their EFA requirements, he said.

Farmer’s Weekly reported the union was also very concerned about the implications if the hedge layer was used as a checking tool against agri-environment scheme claims.

“This is a huge problem for those who are affected and puts additional pressure on claimants when hedges could have been a quick and easy way to meet their EFA obligation,” said Mr Wordsworth.

“The current guideline from the RPA is that if you need hedges to meet your EFA and they aren’t showing on the hedge layer, you need to fill out an RLE1 form to get them added back in and cover your EFA hedge claim position.”

NFU vice-president Stuart Roberts has said the situation was going to create more work for farmers and agents.

If you need advice on this matter, or have experienced problems already, please do get in touch with us on 01952 727007 or email enquiries@madeleys.co.uk

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