15/08/07 - Common land rights and the Single Payment Scheme – Stakeholder meeting notes
DEFRA and RPA officials met a large number of stakeholders on 9 July 2007 with a view to addressing concerns that had arisen from DEFRA/RPA’s common land allocation policy under the Single Payment Scheme (SPS). Attendees included the Tenant Farmers Association (TFA), Natural England, the National Farmers Union (NFU) and representatives from leading common land interest groups from across the country. The following is a note of the issues discussed and their relevant outcomes.
Tenanted Grazing allocations on Common Land
Stakeholders expressed concern that the current policy was viewed to be unfair to active or tenanted graziers who were not registered under the Commons Registration Act, 1965, and unsupportive of upland farming in general. DEFRA/RPA agreed to review tenanted allocations. Ministerial permission was given to extend SPS eligibility to certain cases where an owner’s surplus grazing area had been granted to tenants through official tenancy agreements.
Any applicant whose claim was initially rejected because their tenanted rights were not tracked back to a commons register entry is urged to write to RPA with details of their case. RPA have agreed to look into these on a case by case basis.
Progress of split-right policy
DEFRA/RPA also took heed of stakeholder concerns about the methods used in interpreting common land rights and specifically those that appeared to be viable over more than one common. DEFRA/RPA will send details of the current methods used for splitting rights and are awaiting receipt of feedback from Stakeholders regarding their opinions on any practical alternatives.
10-Month restriction to common land claims discussed
DEFRA/RPA was asked to consider registered rights that are considered ineligible for SPS payment calculation because of the inability to meet the SPS 10-month rule. It was explained it was not possible under current EU legislation for these restricted rights to be considered eligible for activating payments. It is, however, possible for restricted rights to be considered eligible for the establishment of entitlements for 2005. Any cases where DEFRA/RPA did not establish entitlements on this basis would be re-addressed on receipt of the applicant’s written request. (It was further agreed that DEFRA/RPA would continue discussions with stakeholders regarding the 10-month rule and its potential abolishment in future years).
DEFRA/RPA is currently investigating known cases but if any applicant thinks this may have affected their claim please write to RPA and request their claim to be reconsidered due to changes to the 10-month availability rules for establishing entitlements on common land. RPA have again agreed to look into these on a case by case basis.
A review of future correspondence on common land rights to SPS applicants will be taken by RPA.
If there are any queries about the issues mentioned above please write to RPA at the following address:
Rural Payments Agency
Common Land Policy Issues
PO Box 1058,
Newcastle upon Tyne,
Page published: 15 August 2007