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Farmers and land agents will be unable to register for the Basic Payment Scheme for large parts of Friday, 30 January.

The Rural Payments Agency has asked people to avoid using its telephone service to register on that date – although the helpline will be open to help with other queries.

The online service will also be unavailable for new registrations.

The agency said the service should be back up and running by 31 January/1 February, although on those days some land details might not be visible because it would still be running updates.

See also: Don’t delay BPS registration, says Defra

In a separate development, the agency has said it has rejected plans to reduce, from 12 hours down to two, the time it gives farmers to respond to an email which completes the registration process.

Attempts to reduce this window to two hours to improve security had met criticism from the farm industry, which claimed longer was needed, particularly for those applicants with poor internet connections who need help from friends and relatives to register.

“We have listened to customer feedback and it [the time given to respond to the email] will be staying at 12 hours,” said a spokesman.

The rural payments helpline (03000 200 301) is open from 7am – 6pm Monday to Friday and 8am – 2pm at weekends. You can register online.