The RPA has now made top up payments to over 2200 commoners for their 2015 BPS. Last October it became clear that significant corrections were required to the control data held by the RPA for common land. A major project was launched by the RPA in late November to remedy the situation following undertakings made by the RPA to the Efra Committee.
Since then the Foundation for Common Land has been meeting every two weeks with Paul Caldwell, now the RPA’s Chief Executive, together with representatives from the NFU and the CAAV. The RPA reviewed all common land maps and also the allocation for over 85% of the 4000 commoner claims. From this over 2200 farmers were allocated a top up and 600 had no changes required. About 500 2015 claims are still being reviewed most of these are in the New Forest, an area of common land that extends to over 20,000 ha.
Our Executive Director, Julia Aglionby commented, “We are really pleased by how the RPA has engaged with us over the last three months. This collaboration has been a long time in coming but we are optimistic that this new way of working will continue now all have seen the dividends it provides. We have been assured that once the 2015 BPS review has been completed the top ups for 2016 will commence and we continue to press the RPA on this and to commence the assessment of the claims for compensation following the Minchinhampton case.”
Commoners provide many benefits to society through their management of common land and should be properly rewarded for this role. BPS is essential to enable farmers to maintain these public benefits.