With the 2018 Basic Payment Scheme application window opening in mid-March, it was hoped by agents and claimants alike that the process would be refined to make it quicker and more straight-forward.

Unfortunately, due to the huge amount of mapping changes, otherwise referred to as Proactive Land Change Detection (PLCD), the process for many claims will require greater scrutiny this scheme year warns Tom Mellor of Greenslade Taylor Hunt.

He said: “A number of issues already encountered this year whilst undertaking applications include incorrect field parcel amalgamations, where parcels have even been amalgamated with neighbours land!

“Also, on many occasions ineligible features have been added or removed. Any changes need to be checked and double-checked, as ultimately if the Rural Payments Agency makes a mistake, it is the claimant’s problem!”

Another problem, which has raised its head for farmers, who grow arable crops this year, is compliance with the Ecological Focus Areas (EFA) rules. The changes to the criteria for Nitrogen-Fixing crops basically barred them from being utilised to qualify for EFA for the 2018 scheme year, which has led to many farmers looking at alternatives. Many have viewed utilising their hedgerows as the simplest way forward, however this option equally has pitfalls, which must be avoided. The PLCD process has led to hedgerows being mapped this year, which in many ways is very useful, however this information must be checked as if it is incorrect as opposed to what is actually on the ground and eligible, the claim could be subjected to over-declaration greening penalties.

Greenslade Taylor Hunt has numerous agricultural professionals throughout Somerset, Devon and Dorset, who are able to assist with farmers BPS applications as well as Countryside Stewardship related matters. If you have concerns relating to the above mentioned issues, or indeed any other BPS related matters, please do not hesitate to contact Tom Mellor at the Sedgemoor Agricultural Office on 01278 410250 or your local GTH office.