Gate in Scottish Highlands© The Travel Library/REX Shutterstock

Scotland has extended the deadline for subsidy applications under the Basic Payment Scheme by one month on the grounds that 1,300 farmers are still waiting for updated mapping data.

The Scottish government has announced that the deadline for submitting Single Application Forms (SAFs) will now be 15 June. This is the second year in succession that it has been forced to extend the deadline.

A statement from the government said the Rural Payments and Services online application system continued to operate well.

See also: Map problems prompt Scots to demand SAF deadline extension

“The Scottish government expects to receive around 21,000 SAFs and for the vast majority of customers there is nothing to delay submission this year.

“However, a small number of farmers, principally around 1,300 who were subject to land inspections in respect of their 2015 claims, have not yet been provided with fully updated mapping data on which to base their 2016 claim.”

The European Commission announced earlier in the month that member states had the discretion to extend the application window again this year.

Low completion rate

The decision has been taken following discussion with NFU Scotland officials who requested an application extension. As of 5 May, only one-quarter of applications had been completed.

“Given that the system is working well for the majority of farmers, Scottish government encourages all those who can to submit their SAFs as soon as possible, and not to delay just because of the extension,” said a government statement.

“The extension of the window will have an impact on the 2016 programme and the earlier SAFs are submitted, the earlier Scottish government can begin the processing of 2016 claims, thereby mitigating the impact on the timetable for 2016 claims.”

NFU Scotland president Allan Bowie said while many farmers have already submitted their claim it could not allow a situation to develop where other members could not because of mapping issues.

No implications for payment timing

“Before pressing for this extension, we sought assurances from government officials that extending the deadline for application would have no implications for when payments will be made,” he said.  

“It is already clear from last year’s deeply flawed payment process that lessons must be learned and the delays and payment debacle of the 2015 scheme cannot be repeated.”