Read how to check changes that have been made to your digital maps and what to do if you want to make changes.
Why mapping updates are needed
The European Commission requires every country operating Common Agricultural Policy schemes to proactively check land parcels against the latest information available. This means that the Rural Payments Agency (RPA) is required to make sure that all land data on their systems is up to date.
Information the Rural Payments Agency uses to check if an update is needed
We check and update digital land maps using information from the latest available data sources. These include farm inspections and land imagery such as aerial photography and Ordnance Survey map updates as well as information received from customers. Read What we map for more information.
How RPA notifies you that they have updated a land parcel
It’s important that you check your digital maps online because we’ve reviewed and updated our mapping information, where necessary, since applications were made for BPS 2017. If we’ve updated your land parcels, you will have received notifications in the ‘Messages’ tab in the Rural Payments service identifying which land parcels have been updated.
If you have requested a change to your digital maps, either by calling us or by sending an RLE1 form and sketch map to us, we will write to you. We’ll either confirm that we’ve made the changes you requested or we’ll explain why they cannot be made.
When were digital land maps checked and updated?
Digital land maps were checked, updated and changes published between August and December for 2017, and between January and mid-March for 2018.
What you need to do
It is important that if you have received a notification through the Rural Payments service, you check your digital land maps and land parcel details. It is your responsibility to check your digital maps throughout the year and tell us if you do not agree with a change that we’ve made.
Changes we have made
What we map
RPA uses digital maps to record physical land parcel boundaries and features for land parcels which will be claimed on for some rural payments schemes. Find the list of these schemes and information on non-agricultural areas and features in the RLE1 guidance.
We define a land parcel as an area of land that is 0.0100 hectares or larger, and has physical boundaries.
Examples of physical boundaries are:
- hedges, walls, rivers, drains, ditches, roads
- obvious changes such as woodland next to grass
- watercourses if wider than 4 metres can sometimes be used as a boundary
- boundary stones and marker posts
Examples that we do not accept as boundaries:
- natural paths
temporary boundaries such as:
- temporary electric fences
- plough lines
- buffer areas between crops
Split land parcels
If a land parcel lies across a Less Favoured Area (LFA) boundary, we split the parcel on the digital map and record it as 2 separate parcels. The LFA boundaries are usually based on actual physical boundaries that are shown on Ordnance Survey maps. There are some exceptions to this.
Merged land parcels
We merge land parcels on the digital map when the permanent boundary is removed. Sometimes the boundary has not been removed but is not visible on aerial photos. In these cases we do not know the boundary has not been removed so we merge the land parcels based on the latest data we have – the aerial photos. We do not merge land parcels on the digital maps when the parcels are registered to different customers. In these cases the existing parcel boundaries on the digital map will not be changed.
We record land cover on the digital maps but not land use. Land cover is not the same as land use. Land cover is a group of common land uses. There are a few cases where a land use has the same name as the land cover group – permanent grassland is an example of this.
The table below shows the 4 land cover groups and some examples of the land uses in each group:
|Land cover||Land use|
|Arable land||Winter wheat - Spring barley - Temporary grassland|
|Permanent grassland||Permanent grassland|
|Permanent crops||Nursery crops - Short rotation coppice - Lavender|
|Non-agricultural area||Farm building - Structure - Woodland|
Converting temporary grassland to permanent grassland
In 2017, RPA reviewed land parcels which had been declared as temporary grassland for at least 5 years by 15 May 2017. In 2018, we changed our records for all those land parcels from temporary grassland to permanent grassland unless they were in an agri-environment agreement. We didn’t change the parcels that were in an agri-environment agreement because for some agreements the parcels had kept their arable status.
Order of the changes
From 2018, RPA will only use information that is no more than one year old to carry out mapping updates. We will review information from inspections and RLE1 forms as well as the latest land imagery. We will decide if a digital map needs to be updated based on the latest information we hold.
Where you can see the updates
When you receive a mapping update notification through the Rural Payments service you need to check your digital maps so that you know what changes we have made. Using the Rural Payments service, you can see digital maps of all the land parcels registered to your holding.
What you can expect to see
Some of the updates may seem small and we appreciate that you may find this inconvenient. However, updates such as boundary or area changes, land cover changes or split or merged parcels can be important and can affect your agreements and/or payments.
In some cases, we may have to temporarily remove a feature to make the update. In these cases, a feature may disappear from the ‘View land’ screen temporarily, but it reappears when the update is made.
For more information about scheme rules or how the changes might affect Natural England schemes or Forestry Commission legacy schemes read the following pages on GOV.UK:
- Basic Payment Scheme (BPS) 2018
- Countryside Stewardship or Environmental Stewardship
- Forestry Commission legacy schemes
How to check your digital land maps
You can see digital maps of all the land parcels registered to your holding using the Rural Payments service
- Go to: www.ruralpayments.service.gov.uk.
- From the ‘Business overview’ screen, click ‘Land’ then ‘View land’.
- To view individual land parcel details select the land parcel you need. The ‘Parcel details’ screen shows you a digital map and details of the land parcel. There is also a ‘Photo’ option as well as the ‘Map’ option.
If you believe the map or any of the details are incorrect check the map against the photo to see if they match. If the map and photo do not match you can call us.
If we agree this is an error in the mapping work we will change it. If the mapping work is correct you will need to follow the instructions What to do if you do not agree with the updates.
If the map and photo match, the mapping process is correct.
If you still believe the map or the details are incorrect because:
- you have made changes to the land after the aerial photo was taken
- you disagree with a change we have made
you need to request a change to your digital map. Read the information below.
If you are not sure why the change has been made, you can call us.
What to do if you do not agree with the updates
Requests for changes to your digital maps and land parcel details could affect payments you have already received as well as future payments. Only tell us about changes if you are sure they need to be made.
There are 2 ways you can tell RPA about changes to your land cover.
- If there is only one land cover for a land parcel, you can call us.
- If there is more than one land cover for a land parcel, you must fill in an RLE1 form and send it to us with a sketch map clearly marked with the land covers and areas. You must also write ‘Mapping change query’ on your RLE1 form and sketch map.
If you want to tell us about several land parcels, each with only one land cover, it is better to fill in an RLE1 form than to call us.
Changes other than land cover
To tell RPA you do not agree with a change they’ve made you must fill in an RLE1 form and send it to RPA with relevant sketch maps. You can use the Rural Payments service to print maps of your land parcels. Information on how to mark changes on maps and how to fill in an RLE1 form is given in the RLE1 guidance.
You must also:
- write on the RLE1 form and the sketch map ‘Mapping change query’ and mark the changes you would like to make – read ‘Do I need to send any evidence with my RLE1 form and sketch maps?’ for anything else that must be written on the sketch maps
- mark on the RLE1 form and sketch map what scheme this update relates to (include which scheme year), such as the Basic Payment Scheme, a Countryside Stewardship application, an Environmental Stewardship Agreement
- add the land parcel you are querying on the RLE1 form and the date when the change was made on the ground. If you believe there has never been a change to the land parcel please use 1 January 2015 as the effective date.
BPS application - if you disagree with a land parcel split or merge that RPA has made, and both of the following apply:
- there is no overall change to the eligible area you are claiming
- you are the only person claiming on the parcel(s)
- submit your BPS application using the parcel areas that have been mapped
- fill in an RLE1 form and send it with relevant sketch maps to RPA later in the year.
Do I need to send any evidence with my RLE1 form and sketch maps?
You do not need to send any specific evidence with your RLE1 form and sketch maps. However, you need to be absolutely sure that the changes you request are necessary and correct. We use the latest developments in aerial photography so we may need:
- further evidence from you
- to inspect the land parcel
before we accept the request for change.
If you believe that your request for changes is necessary then you need to send us your RLE1 form with your sketch maps.
To change a boundary, fill in the RLE1 form and send it with your sketch map clearly marked to show the boundary and write on what type of permanent boundary it is.
To add a non-agricultural area or feature, fill in the RLE1 form and send it with your sketch map clearly marked to show the non-agricultural area or feature.
To remove a non-agricultural area or feature, fill in the RLE1 form and send it with your sketch map. The sketch map should clearly show the non-agricultural area or feature with a cross marked through it. Write clearly on the map that you want to remove the area or feature.
There isn’t a deadline for sending your RLE1 form and sketch maps to tell us that you do not agree with a mapping change. We review every ‘Mapping change query’ RLE1 form that is received, however our focus is on making payments. This means depending on when you send your RLE1 form, it may take time to review your request.
Whether you have requested a change to your digital maps by calling us or by sending an RLE1 form and sketch maps to us, we will write to you. We’ll either confirm that we’ve made the changes you requested or we’ll explain why they cannot be made.
Helpline 03000 200 301
Rural Payments Agency
PO Box 352