Guidance: Commons eligibility checks

Rural Payments Agency

November 19
09:00 2019


The Rural Payments Agency (RPA) regularly checks and updates its digital maps. This includes common land.

How commons eligibility checks differ from other land eligibility checks

Land eligibility on common land is checked using the latest enhanced satellite images and a limited number of supplementary physical land checks. These checks are different from our usual land eligibility checks. The main differences are:

  • we check the land cover and land use on commons and not land boundaries which we cannot change because they are legally defined

  • we survey the eligible area of a common separately to the enclosed land farmed by the common land graziers who declared rights on the common for BPS

  • graziers claim for a common by declaring their grazing rights rather than applying directly for an area of land. This means that there will be no penalties for over-declaring if we discover the eligible area has reduced. This is because the common area was calculated by us, using the rights the grazier declared and the land data on our systems. Therefore, the overclaim was not caused by incorrect information declared by the grazier.

When and where to check for changes

We need to make sure that all land data is up to date. Therefore, the eligibility checks are carried out regularly.

After a common is checked, if the eligible area has changed, we will write to you if you have declared rights on it as part of your BPS application. We and the Forestry Commission will also contact you if Stewardship and/or forestry schemes are affected. We will publish the new eligible area value on GOV.UK, the Commons eligibility checks updated areas at the top of this page.

The changes might affect the value of your claims and payments for:

  • BPS 2019

  • stewardship schemes

  • forestry schemes

This is because the notional area used to calculate your 2019 BPS payment may be less than last year. Therefore, your 2019 BPS payment may be lower than you are expecting. Read more information about how the notional area of the common is calculated on page 26 of the Basic Payment Scheme: rules for 2019. The example calculation shows how the value of the common land part of the BPS payment is calculated.

What to do if you do not agree with the updated eligible area values

If you want to query the revised eligible area value, you need to discuss your query with the other commoners, and relevant Commons Association or equivalent organisation, to reach an agreed view.

It is important that individual customers do not make any changes to the land cover on the common, such as removing scrub, without discussing it with the other graziers/commoners. This is because it might affect the scheme agreements in place with other commoners.

Once you have reviewed and discussed the revised eligible area values with the other commoners, if you still want to query or disagree with our findings, you can call us on 03000 200 301.

There is no deadline to call us but if you want to query or disagree with our findings, you should call us within 6 weeks of us writing to you. This will give us the best possible chance to consider mapping update requests before we start to make BPS 2019 payments.Depending on your query, we may email a digital map (PDF) to you so you can see the land cover changes.

Its important that you check your contact details are up to date in the Rural Payments service. In particular, we need your up to date email address.

If we cannot email a digital map to you, we may send the map on a disc by post. If you are unable to view the PDF maps sent by email or post you must tell us this when you call to discuss your query. If we then send you a map, we will make sure that you will be able to view it. When you receive these maps (PDF or another format), you must check them carefully. If you agree with the updated eligible area shown on these maps you need take no further action.

What to do if you do not agree with the updated eligible areas shown on the maps RPA send you

You will need to discuss this with the other commoners, and relevant Commons Association or equivalent organisation to reach an agreed view.

If they disagree with the information on the maps they will need to take action as a group. They will need to fill in and send an RLE1 form and sketch maps to us. The group must send only one set of forms/maps for the common. This is so that we do not receive conflicting information.

You need to show all amendments on your sketch maps with as much detail as possible, including measurement or area size. Information on how to mark changes on sketch maps and how to fill in an RLE1 form is given in the RLE1 guidance.

Requests for changes to your maps and land parcel details could affect your future payments. Only tell us about changes if you are sure they need to be made.

If you need to send an RLE1 form and sketch map(s) to us, check the email or letter you received with your digital map (PDF). It will advise you when you should send your RLE1 form and sketch maps to us.

There is no deadline for sending the RLE1 form and sketch maps but depending on when you send them, our focus may be on making payments using the updated eligible areas we identified and published.

Common land eligible area values and total area values

Find the calculation data for commons with an updated eligible area in the Commons eligibility checks updated area table at the top of this page.

Find the calculation data for all other commons in the Common land grazing rights table. This table is published each year and includes the eligible area and number of rights claimed (in Livestock Units) for each common for that BPS scheme year. The data is taken from the Rural Payments service.

The Common land grazing rights table for BPS 2017 is published on the BPS 2017 page. The eligible area of a common will alter as physical changes take place on the common and the information in this table may be updated to take account of information received from inspections or other sources.

Published 17 August 2018
Last updated 19 November 2019 +show all updates
  1. Additional commons data added to the 2019 table

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