Advice on hedges for BPS and Countryside Stewardship 2018

The new mapped hedges information isn’t always correct. Alice De Soer from the Central Association of Agricultural Valuers advises on dealing with hedges for the Basic Payment Scheme and Countryside Stewardship this year.

Checking hedges information

The hedges information mapped by the Rural Payments Agency (RPA) will be used to process Basic Payment Scheme (BPS) and Countryside Stewardship (CS) applications and claims in 2018. It must therefore be checked on your digital maps.

Sign in at www.gov.uk/rural-payments and from “Business overview” go to “Land” and “View land”. Choose the relevant land parcel and tick the “hedges” icon on the map to view what has been mapped.

What hedges information is shown on the digital maps?

The hedges mapped in a land parcel should be listed and may show a number of separate hedge lengths. Where a hedge is on or within 5m of a land parcel with an arable cover, it should show as eligible for ecological focus area (EFA). The BPS definition of a hedge now includes trees in a line, but those haven’t been mapped.

When to submit an RLE1 form to update the hedges information

Hedges must be correctly mapped if they’re used for: EFA greening requirement for BPS 2018 applications; a CS application; or a claim for an existing CS agreement. An RLE1 form and sketch map is only needed if these hedges have been mapped incorrectly or are missing. If hedges aren’t being used for EFA or CS applications/claims, an RLE1 form isn’t needed now.

On the RLE1 form, enter the hedge information at Part D using action code “H” and show what’s to be mapped on the sketch map. A land parcel map showing the mapped hedges information can’t be printed, so view the map on full screen and take a screen shot to print to use as a sketch map. Submit the RLE1 form and sketch map before 6 July 2018. Not doing so could delay your payment or agreement offer. Updated RLE1 guidance and more information about checking and updating hedges can be found at www.gov.uk/rpa/bps2018.

How to include EFA hedges in a BPS 2018 application

The “Land use” screen for an online BPS 2018 application (or Part D of a paper BP5 form) should show hedges declared as EFA for BPS 2017, unless the length of EFA eligible hedges shown on the digital maps is less. If it’s lower, the mapped length is shown instead. The hedges information in the “Land use” screen can be updated and the total EFA hedge length included as a single entry.

If you update EFA hedges, check they’re shown in the “Use less EFA than available” screen and generate a new application summary. If hedges declared as EFA are incorrectly mapped or aren’t shown, or you’re declaring trees in a line as EFA, submit an RLE1 form and sketch map before 6 July 2018.

How to include hedges in a CS application

If you’re applying to CS, only three options are checked against the mapped hedges data: BE3 (Management of hedgerows), BN5 (Hedgerow laying) and BN6 (Hedgerow coppicing). If you’re including these options and the hedges are incorrectly mapped or aren’t shown on your digital maps, submit an RLE1 form and sketch map before 6 July 2018.

How to claim hedges in an existing CS agreement

If you’re an existing CS agreement holder submitting an annual revenue claim, only option BE3 (Management of hedgerows) is checked against the mapped hedges data. Other capital items are checked against Natural England information.

The hedges information shown on the online claim or paper claim form is based on your agreement, not the mapped hedges information. Check the hedge lengths shown and if they’re incorrect, update them.

If hedges used for option BE3 are mapped incorrectly or aren’t shown on the digital maps, submit an RLE1 form and sketch map before 6 July 2018.

Summary

  • Check the hedges information shown on the digital maps on the Rural Payments service
  • Read the new hedges and RLE1 guidance at www.gov.uk/rpa/bps2018
  • Only submit an RLE1 form and sketch map before 6 July 2018 if you’re using hedges for EFA, a Countryside Stewardship (CS) application or claim.
  • Submit BPS 2018 applications and CS revenue claims by 15 May 2018 and CS applications by 31 July 2018
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