Guidance

Changes to digital maps that may affect stewardship and forestry scheme agreements

Read how to check changes that may affect your agreements and what to do if you need to make changes.

Applications, agreements and claims that may be affected

The Rural Payments Agency (RPA) is required to make sure that all land data on their systems is up to date. This land information is used for different schemes including Natural England (NE) and Forestry Commission (FC) schemes such as:

  • Countryside Stewardship (CS)
  • Environmental Stewardship (ES)
  • Forestry schemes – English Woodland Grant scheme and Farm Woodland Premium scheme

A list of schemes that use this land information is in the Rural Land and Entitlements (RLE1) guidance.

What you need to do

Check your digital maps

It is your responsibility to check your digital maps and land parcel information in the Rural Payments service. You need to make sure the information is correct. If you do not agree with the changes made you must tell RPA. Read how to check and change your digital land maps and How to check and change your hedge information. The guidance explains digital map updates and what you need to do.

The main changes you need to check for stewardship and forestry scheme applications, agreements and claims are:

  • land cover – changes made to land cover on your digital maps may affect the eligibility of options in existing CS, ES and FC agreements as well as new CS applications
  • land parcel area
  • split land parcels
  • merged land parcels
  • hedges

These are the main changes but there may be others.

NE or FC claims and applications

Claims – if you

  • disagree with the information shown in your digital maps, and
  • you believe it affects a NE or FC claim that you have submitted

then you need to send RPA your RLE1 form and sketch maps as soon as possible, if you have not already done so.

Applications – if the changes you disagree with affect the CS Mid-Tier application that you have made or plan to make before 31 August, send your RLE1 form and sketch map to RPA as soon as possible if you have not already done so.

Request changes to your digital maps if necessary

Follow the instructions in how to check and change your digital land maps and call RPA or send them your RLE1 form and sketch map to request changes to your digital maps.

How mapping updates may affect stewardship and forestry scheme applications, agreements and claims

Mapping updates and whole parcel options

Where a mapping update changes the total area of a land parcel, NE or FC will change the area of the whole parcel option to match the new total land parcel size. This only applies where the area of the option was the same size as the land parcel before the mapping update.
For other mapping updates such as:

  • land parcel area changes where there are part-parcel options rather than whole parcel options
  • adding a new permanent non-agricultural area or feature
  • merging two parcels
  • splitting a parcel

NE or FC may need to contact you before amending your agreement.

Amending existing agreements

NE will only issue an amended agreement to reflect mapping updates if there has been a major change to the land. An example of a major change is where a road has been built across a land parcel. FC will issue an Endorsement Schedule to confirm minor parcel size changes or parcel reference changes for forestry schemes. They will issue a new agreement if the mapping update is a major change such as a road or building.

How mapping updates may affect payments for previous scheme years

If a mapping update causes an under declaration in a previous year’s claim, a supplementary payment for that year will not be made. This is because it was found after the deadline when claims can be amended. If the update causes an over-claim, this may be recovered and penalties applied.

How mapping updates may affect 2017 and 2018 stewardship payments

NE and RPA use current land data to make:

  • most CS and ES 2017 advance payments (75% of the annual payment value)
  • all final payments (25% of the annual payment value)
  • all annual payments for forestry schemes – these are made as a single 100% payment

This means that if there have been any mapping updates made to your digital maps, it may affect your payments.

FC has continued to follow their usual mapping process. They have updated English Woodland Grant Scheme and Farm Woodland Premium Scheme legacy agreements with new land information as it has been published. This means your 2018/2019 prepopulated claim for forestry legacy schemes should be correct.

If you have made changes to your land after you submitted your FC claim, FC will not apply these changes to any payments already made. Any future payments will be adjusted, up or down, to reflect the new parcel boundary, size and shape. FC will investigate if significant changes to the parcel sizes you claimed are identified. They may recover grant payments if they find that woodland has been removed.

If you receive a final payment for a stewardship scheme but you disagree with any changes that have been made, you need to:

  • raise a payment query with NE by emailing enquiries@naturalengland.org.uk - include details of your agreement and which land parcels you are going to include in your mapping change query
  • send an RLE1 form and sketch map to RPA to tell them you do not agree with a mapping change

RPA will review your mapping change query and write to you to either confirm they’ve made the changes you requested or they’ll explain why the changes cannot be made. RPA will also tell NE the outcome of your mapping change query. If your land is re-mapped by RPA, a post payment adjustment will be completed and a top-up payment or recovery will be made.

If you send a ‘Mapping change query’ RLE1 form and sketch map before your final payment is made and RPA accepts your request for changes:

  • RPA will complete any mapping needed
  • NE will amend your agreement if necessary

Depending on when you send your RLE1 form, your final payment may be made before the mapping changes are completed. If you believe this has affected your payment you need to raise a payment query with NE by emailing enquiries@naturalengland.org.uk. Include details of your agreement and which land parcels you included in your mapping change query.

How mapping updates may affect 2018 CS agreements

NE use the current land data held by RPA for all CS agreements with 1 January 2018 start date. If there have been any mapping updates to your digital land parcels in the Rural Payments service, these will be shown in your agreement.

When you receive your agreement, you need to check the land information carefully. If it needs to be updated you need to follow the instructions in how to check and change your digital land maps and:

  • call RPA or send them your RLE1 form and sketch map as soon as possible to request changes to your digital maps
  • write clearly on your agreement any changes that need to be made, sign it and return it to NE

RPA will review your mapping change query and write to you to either confirm they’ve made the changes you requested or they’ll explain why the changes cannot be made. RPA will also tell NE the outcome of your mapping change query. If your land is re-mapped by RPA, NE may amend and re-issue your agreement depending on the changes made.

If you sent an RLE1 form and sketch map to RPA before your CS agreement was sent to you, any mapping changes made should be shown in your CS agreement.

How mapping updates may affect 2018 CS applications

Application packs for CS agreements with 1 January 2019 start dates will include the land data held by RPA at the time the pack is issued. This will include any mapping updates made to your digital maps in the Rural Payments service.

If you do not agree with your land information you need to follow the instructions in how to check and change your digital land maps to:

  • call RPA or send them your RLE1 form and sketch map as soon as possible to request changes to your digital maps
  • amend the pre-populated land data on your application form where necessary and send it to NE

Online 2018 applications for the CS Arable Offer

If you do not agree with your land information, you cannot apply online until after you have told RPA that you do not agree and RPA has reviewed your mapping change query request.

You can either:

  • apply using a paper application form, or

  • wait until RPA tell you the outcome of their review and then apply online

Published 4 July 2018