After listening to feedback from farmers and agents about the process of completing the BPS application form (BP5), we’ve put together a few tips to help you submit your claim.
The dates you need to know
15 June: deadline for the RPA to receive BP5 application forms and deadline for farmers and land managers who are claiming under existing agri-environment or woodland grant schemes.
30 September: deadline for submitting RLE1 forms for previously unmapped permanent ineligible features.
Permanent Ineligible Features
Farmers must let the RPA know of permanent ineligible features (PIFs) on their BP5 forms as well as on RLE1 forms. Although the deadline for submitting RLE1 forms for PIFs which have not previously been mapped has been extended, farmers still need to notify the RPA of these features on their BP5 forms. They can do this by taking the PIF area away from their maximum eligible area in column C4 and C8 using the appropriate land use code. An update to the ‘how to apply’ guidance has been issued with more detail on how farmers should account for PIFs on their BP5 forms.
Entitlements on the BP5 form
The RPA will accept a BP5 application whether Part I is filled in or not - and it won’t affect the way it processes the farmer’s claim. The pre-printed information shows the number of entitlements held in each payment region on 1 January 2015. To check exactly what entitlements farmers have, they should compare this figure with the information on their 2014 SPS entitlement statements and adjust the figure for any entitlement transfers in or out that have not already been taken into account.
When the RPA processes the claim, it will use the most up-to-date entitlements information that it has, not what it printed on the form in January.
Land use codes for woodland
There isn’t a land use code for trees/woodland. If trees are ‘scattered’ and the underlying land can still be farmed (or be kept in a state suitable to be farmed), the land use for that area beneath the trees should be recorded – so if it is permanent grassland, use PG01.
If the area of trees/woodland is not eligible for BPS but is in a Rural Development Programme (RDP) agreement, it should be included in Part C, using land use code RD02. If the area is eligible for BPS because it was used to claim SPS in 2008 and is still in an RDP agreement, use RD01.
If the area is not eligible and is not in an RDP agreement, and is a separate parcel/not part of a larger parcel, it should be excluded from the BP5. If it is part of a larger parcel, it should be coded NA01.
All the codes you need to include as part of your application can be found on GOV.UK.
Common mistakes to avoid
- The active farmer box has not been ticked
- Submitting incomplete field data
- Forms not signed
If you submit your forms at a drop-in centre you will be given a receipt immediately. If you send the RPA your 2015 BPS application by post, you will receive a paper receipt within 10 days of the RPA receiving it, sent back to you by post. Receipts for all claims received before 1 May have been sent out.
For added reassurance, if submitting your application by post, farmers may want to consider using a signed-for service. Also remember to put enough postage on the envelope to cover the weight and size.
Further support available
The RPA has produced a step-by-step guide to filling in a paper BP5 application form here.
If you need help with registration, or are an agent who wants to drop off more than five applications, you should make an appointment before visiting your nearest drop-in centre by calling the RPA helpline on 03000 200 301. The helpline is available from 7am-6pm on weekdays and 8am-4pm on weekends. There are 50 drop-in centres located across the country where you can hand in your application and get a basic check of your forms – find out which one is nearest you.
In addition, 10 mobile units are visiting remote areas and attending auction markets and farming events across the country to help farmers get registered and submit their BPS applications.