Farmers in England using hedges to meet their greening requirements or as part of a Countryside Stewardship claim risk payment delays if they fail to submit any outstanding RLE1 forms and sketch maps within the next few days.
Many farmers found significant errors in the digital maps held on the Rural Payments Service when they completed their Basic Payment Scheme form earlier this year.
Significant numbers reported they had hedges that were not appearing, or other boundaries such as walls and fences that had been mistaken as a hedge because they had brambles growing over them.
See also: Mapping errors continue to vex farmers
This was particularly frustrating for farmers wanting to use their hedgerows to meet their ecological focus area (EFA) requirements, with many pointing out they were facing the need to fill out dozens of RLE1 forms to correct the errors.
After industry lobbying, the RPA announced that affected farmers could submit their BPS forms by 15 May, making sure it reflected the position on the ground, but they could have until 6 July to return the necessary RLE1 forms and sketch maps.
The RPA is promising to check for any outstanding RLE1 forms before processing 2018 claims.
But it has also warned that farmers who fail to submit an RLE1 form and sketch map at all may face a payment delay or even penalties if it leads to an overdeclaration.
The NFU has issued a reminder to farmers that the date for the forms to be returned is fast approaching.
“In order to claim on eligible hedges, they need to be shown correctly on the RPA’s online maps,” it said.
“If you have claimed for greening this year on hedge lengths that are not shown on the online maps, then you needed to complete an RLE1 form and submit it to the RPA by 6 July to inform them of hedge mapping issues and substantiate your claim on those hedges.”