February professional pondering

Added on February 14, 2018 in Recent News

February Professional Ponderings

Thank you to the Planning and Development team for writing last month’s ponderings.  I have received plenty of positive feedback from readers, especially those who were not necessarily aware that Bletsoes offered this service.  For the avoidance of doubt, our Planning and Development team principally comprises Alistair Brodie, Peter Moore, Andrew Middleditch and Tristan Peck, who operate from our Thrapston office.  Through my involvement with our Stratford-upon-Avon office, I also undertake an element of planning and development work on behalf of Stratford based clients. We have expertise in the promotion of land for residential development, commercial development, planning applications and appeals, Option, Promotion and Joint Venture Agreements, development and land sales etc.  Therefore, we are well placed to assist clients with this area of work from both offices.

January has been and gone, and the festive period seems like a distant memory.  This year has got off to a busy start.  Despite the uncertainties around Brexit and possibly because of them, we have received plenty of exciting instructions to consider various options for clients including sales and new arrangements such as FBTs and contract farming.  We anticipate that these will come to fruition over the months ahead – keep your eye on our website and our social media accounts for further information.

According to the Rural Payments Agency over 93% of BPS 2017 claimants should have received a payment, with more than £1.5 billion having been paid out.  The farming minister, George Eustice MP, has recently confirmed that the RPA will make BPS 2017 bridging payments in April 2018 to any BPS 2017 claimants who have not received a payment by 31st March 2018.  As with last year, the bridging payments will be based upon 75% of the RPA’s assessment of claimants BPS 2017 claim value.  The RPA should be writing to unpaid BPS 2017 claimants towards the end of March to give further information about bridging payments.  Unfortunately, as with last year, we have identified a few underpayments.  Therefore, it is prudent to check that you have received the right amount.  If an underpayment is identified, then the advice from the RPA is to complete the BPS query form.  Those of you that use Bletsoes to undertake your BPS applications, can I ask you please to contact us (if you have not already done so) with the detail of what you have been paid, so that we can check that it is correct.  We are happy to undertake checks for those we don’t regularly do BPS work for too.

There are still a significant number of claimants who have not received all of their 2016 BPS payments. The latest from the RPA is that they hope to resolve these underpayments by the summer of this year.  We are using our contacts to put pressure on the RPA in this regard!

I am currently receiving instructions from clients in respect of their grasskeeping arrangements for 2018.  Most are content with their existing grazier, but there will likely be opportunities to take on additional grasskeeping.  As ever, please lodge your requirements with a member of the Agricultural team if you are looking to take on more grass.

Continuing in the same vein, graziers are reminded to ensure that the necessary permissions are in place in respect of livestock movements.  Last year a new 10-mile rule was introduced meaning livestock keepers were able to apply to register, under the same CPH number, land used within a 10-mile radius; this covered land that was used on a permanent or temporary basis.  The advantage of this is when moving livestock between parcels of land recorded under the same CPH, you do not need to record or report those movements; potentially removing the need to undertake any TB pre-movement testing.  For land used temporarily on a sole occupancy basis, livestock keepers can apply for a Temporary Land Association (TLA) or Temporary CPH (TCPH).  For those of you that applied for TLA’s or TCPH’s last year, you will receive a letter from the APHA notifying you that the arrangement is due to expire and offering the opportunity to renew. As ever, you should familiarise yourself with these rules, as breach of them could result in a penalty being levied against your BPS and Agri Environment Scheme payments.

January also saw the introduction of the new simplified Countryside Stewardship Scheme.  This scheme aims to make the process quicker and easier in a bid to appeal to a wider range of applicants in the hope it will deliver a wide range of environmental benefits.  There are four new Countryside Stewardship offers available; online arable offer, lowland grazing offer; upland offer; and mixed faming offer.  There is a more detailed note on the ‘Recent News’ section of our website for those of you who go online.  For further information, please contact Daisy Miles or Verity Straker in the Agricultural team who will be happy to provide further information.

Finally, a point of housekeeping; we have covered this numerous times in recent years, for which I make no apologies.  Landowners can make statements to their County Council to prevent their land being registered as a town or village green, or being recorded as a highway/public right of way on the definitive map. Land can be recorded as a highway/public right of way on the Definitive Map of public rights of way on the basis of “presumed dedication”.  This means that if the public has used the land as a right of way – for example as a public footpath – without force, secrecy or permission for twenty years it could give rise to the presumption that the land is a highway/public footpath.  As a land owner, you can deposit a Highways Statement and map to acknowledge whether any ways have been dedicated across your land.

In respect of Landowner statements to prevent land being registered as a ‘town’ or a ‘village’ green, they work by ending any period of use of the land as a right for recreation i.e. it stops the clock on the number of years of use.  If the land has been used for less than twenty years, the deposit prevents the users obtaining the twenty years they need to apply.

There are of course fees associated with depositing these statements, but these may look relatively inexpensive when compared to the likely costs of defeating a claim. If you would like further information on how to make a claim, please contact Daisy Miles in the Agricultural team, who will be happy to assist you.

Here’s to hoping that February brings some warmer, drier weather.

Chris Templar

Rural Surveyor

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