Guidance

Guidance on agri-environment agreements (CS and ES) and BPS

Read this guidance for information on agri-environment agreements (Countryside Stewardship and Environmental Stewardship) and the Basic Payment Scheme (BPS)

Introduction

This guidance covers some of the queries that you as an applicant or agreement holder may have regarding the Basic Payment Scheme (BPS) in relation to agri-environment scheme agreements (Countryside Stewardship (CS) and Environmental Stewardship (ES)).

It covers BPS land eligibility queries about certain management options within mixed and non-woodland agri-environment agreements.

For guidance on BPS and woodland grant scheme agreements, please see Forestry Commission Operations Note ON042. Also read the Basic Payment Scheme rules relevant to the year of your application.

Land in agri-environment agreements and BPS eligibility

If you apply for BPS, you must declare on your BPS application:

  • all of the agricultural land on your holding; and
  • any non-agricultural land you use for a Rural Development Scheme agreement, such as Countryside Stewardship, or certain nationally funded woodland creation schemes.

For land to be eligible for BPS it must be all of the following.

  • ‘agricultural’ land (arable, permanent grassland or permanent crops)
  • used primarily for an ‘agricultural activity’ for the whole of the relevant calendar year
  • at your disposal on the relevant BPS application submission deadline, usually 15 May.

Land managed in an agri-environment scheme that continues to meet the BPS definition of agricultural land remains eligible, as long as it meets the relevant BPS eligibility requirements and is declared on the BPS application under an appropriate agricultural land-use code.

Non-agricultural land is not usually eligible for BPS. However, land that has (or will) become non-agricultural, and is managed under certain agri-environment scheme agreement options, can still be eligible for BPS if it was used to claim the Single Payment Scheme (SPS) in 2008.

Non-agricultural land in agri-environment agreements and BPS eligibility

Where the agri-environment management option requires that the land is taken out of agricultural use, this normally means it is not eligible for BPS because it is no longer ‘agricultural’ land that is being used for an ‘agricultural activity’. However, this non-agricultural land may remain eligible for BPS payments if both of the following apply:

  • it was used with entitlements to claim under SPS in 2008; and
  • it’s managed under one of the agri-environment scheme options in Table 1.

You should declare this non-agricultural land on your BPS application under the land use code ‘RD01’. It only remains eligible for BPS for as long as it continues to be in one of the agri-environment options listed in Table 1.

If the management required under the agri-environment options listed in Table 1 means the land is not taken out of agricultural use, it should still be ‘agricultural’ land used for an ‘agricultural activity’. Therefore, you should declare it on your BPS application under an appropriate agricultural land use code, and not under ‘RD01’.

Non-agricultural land that does not meet the above criteria is not eligible for BPS. You should declare it on your BPS application under an appropriate non-agricultural land-use code.

Land that has (or will) become non-agricultural because of the agri-environment management requirements will normally be considered as non-agricultural land from the start of the agri-environment agreement. This applies even where you can continue to graze or crop the land until the land use changes from agricultural to non-agricultural.

Carrying out an ‘agricultural activity’ does not automatically mean the land is ‘agricultural’.

Registering or amending agri-environment land in Rural Payments

All agricultural areas and non-agricultural areas that you manage (or intended to manage) under an agri-environment scheme agreement on a holding that are 0.0100 hectares or larger must be registered with RPA and linked to your Single Business Identifier (SBI). Please refer to the RLE1 guidance for more information.

Non-agricultural land in an agri-environment agreement that is not already registered and was not used to support entitlements in 2008 is not eligible for BPS payments using the ‘RD01’ option.

Land cover and land use

Agricultural land and non-agricultural land must have an appropriate land cover.

Land cover is not the same as land use. RPA classifies land by looking firstly at the physical nature of the land - these categories are referred to as land covers.

Land cover categories are:

  • arable land (including temporary grassland and fallow land)
  • permanent grassland
  • permanent crops
  • non-agricultural land – see section below on Non-agricultural land in the Rural Payments service.

RPA then looks at the activities the land is used for, these sub-categories are referred to as land uses.

The land cover shown on your digital maps in the Rural Payments service must reflect the land use declared on your BPS application.

If the land cover and land use do not correspond, reductions and penalties may be applied to the agri-environment scheme claim.

You can check the land cover of all the land parcels linked to your SBI on your digital maps in the Rural Payments service. Sign in and from ‘Business overview’ click on ‘Land’ and then ‘View land’. You can read further information on changing land cover in the RLE1 guidance.

Non-agricultural land in the Rural Payments service

What you need to do

The land cover for non-agricultural land that is managed (or intended to be managed) under an agri-environment scheme needs to show correctly in the Rural Payments service. This includes non-agricultural land that is eligible for BPS under the ‘RD01’ land use code described above.

To register or update the land cover, fill in an RLE1 form and sketch map. See the RLE1 guidance for more details, in particular ‘Part D: ‘Add a permanent non-agricultural area or feature’ or ‘Change land cover’.

On the sketch map, write the relevant land-use code to identify the appropriate type of non-agricultural land cover for the land parcel(s). For example:

  • WO12 (woodland)

  • WO25 (ungrazeable scrub)

  • IW05 (shingle)

  • IW06 (fen, marsh or swamp)

  • IW07 (bog)

  • MW02 (tidal area)

  • MW03 (reed bed)

  • MW04 (intertidal habitat)

  • MW05 (saline habitat)

  • CF02 (vegetated shingle)

  • CF03 (sand dunes).

Do not use ‘RD01’ on the RLE1 form or sketch map. It is only relevant to your BPS application.

For the List of permanent non-agricultural areas and features, see Land-use codes for 2019.

For existing CS and ES agreements, the ‘Effective date of change’ (column D5 in Part D of the RLE1 form) should be 31 December 2018. For new CS agreements starting from 1 January 2019 onwards, the ‘Effective date of change’ is 31 December of the year before the agreement start date (that is, the day before).

Table 1 lists the agri-environment options that normally mean the land is considered non-agricultural. It also provides some suggested non-agricultural land use codes to support the RLE1 form, however agreement holders must ensure they accurately declare all agricultural and non-agricultural areas and features within each land parcel.

Table 1 - Agri-environment scheme options for non-agricultural land

Countryside Stewardship options

CS code CS option Non-agricultural land-use code
CT2 Creation of coastal sand dunes and vegetated shingle on arable land CF03 or CF02 as applicable
CT4 Creation of inter-tidal and saline habitat on arable land MW04 or MW05 as applicable
CT5 Creation of inter-tidal and saline habitat by non-intervention MW04 or MW05 as applicable
CT7 Creation of inter-tidal and saline habitat on intensive grassland MW04 or MW05 as applicable
WD7 Management of successional areas and scrub WO25
WD8 Creation of successional areas and scrub WO25
WT6 Management of reedbed MW03
WT7 Creation of reedbed MW03
WT8 Management of fen IW06
WT9 Creation of fen IW06
WT10 Management of lowland raised bog IW07

Environmental Stewardship options

ES code ES option Non-agricultural land-use code
HC7 Maintenance of woodland WO12
HC8 Restoration of woodland WO12
HC9 Creation of woodland in Severely Disadvantaged Areas WO12
HC10 Creation of woodland outside Severely Disadvantaged Areas WO12
HC15 Maintenance of successional areas and scrub WO25
HC16 Restoration of successional areas and scrub WO25
HC17 Creation of successional areas and scrub WO25
HP7 Creation of inter-tidal and saline habitat on arable land MW04 or MW05 as applicable
HP8 Creation of inter-tidal and saline habitat on grassland MW04 or MW05 as applicable
HP9 Creation of inter-tidal and saline habitat by non-intervention MW04or MW05 as applicable
HQ3 Maintenance of reedbeds MW03
HQ4 Restoration of reedbeds MW03
HQ5 Creation of reedbeds MW03
HQ6 Maintenance of fen IW06
HQ7 Restoration of fen IW06
HQ8 Creation of fen IW06
HQ9 Maintenance of lowland raised bog IW07
HQ10 Restoration of lowland raised bog IW07
UC22 Uplands woodland livestock exclusion WO12

For further information on woodland grant scheme options and BPS, see Forestry Commission Operations Note ON042.

Claiming BPS on these areas and land parcels

Once RPA has registered or updated the land cover for the land parcel in the Rural Payments service to show the appropriate non-agricultural nature of the land, you must declare it on your BPS application with an appropriate non-agricultural land-use code:

  • ‘RD01’ - where the land was used to claim SPS in 2008 and is being managed under one of the agri-environment options listed above meaning it is eligible for BPS; or
  • the relevant non-agricultural land use code(s) - where the land is not eligible for BPS.

More information

You can read more information about agri-environmental schemes and the RLE1 form and guidance on GOV.UK.

Basic Payment Scheme

Countryside Stewardship

Environmental Stewardship

RLE1 forms and guidance

Contact RPA

Published 13 March 2019