2016 Update: BPS & Environmental Schemes

Annual Claims – From early March, Environmental Stewardship Annual Claim Forms should start to be sent out by Natural England. The Annual claim forms will need to be completed and returned by 16th May 2016. The Claim Form should be pre-populated, but due to outstanding RLE1 mapping work yet to be completed by the RPA the land details may not be up-to-date. If there is incorrect land information and an RLE1 has already been submitted, Section 4 of the Claim Form allows claimants to supply land details.

In 2015 a new agent authorisation form was introduced. If that new version was not completed last year, it needs to be completed and returned to Natural England.

Entitlements Transfers to New Entrant Farmers

Where a transferee is receiving entitlements, the transferee (recipient) must be an “active farmer”. However this does not apply to the transferor. The “active farmer” declaration completed on the 2015 BP5 forms remains effective until 16th May 2016 (or until that farmer submits his BPS 2016 application and completes a new “active farmer” declaration).

Those new entrants who did not submit a BPS 2015 application, and so did not complete the “active farmer” declaration, will need to complete, the stand-alone “active farmer” declaration. Once it is possible to transfer entitlements online via the Rural Payments service (currently scheduled for later this month), there should be a stand-alone “active farmer” declaration which can be completed. The transferee, as well as the transferor, must be registered on Rural Payments. The RPA is also intending to make this stand-alone “active farmer” declaration available as a separate printable version where someone would prefer to use a paper RLE1 form to transfer entitlements.

Carys Studley of Rostons “Both Natural England and the RPA are now providing details on a number of queries that have previously not been confirmed. As ELS and HLS agreements expire, there may be an increased uptake in those wishing to apply for the Countryside Stewardship in 2017. The application window for the 2017 Countryside Stewardship is open earlier and for a longer period this year.”

For further information contact the Rostons office on 01829 773000