Common land eligibility inspections

06 September 2023

Rolling hills with cottages and farm houses running through them.

Our BPS advisers have put together a short guide on BPS eligibility inspections that are carried out on common land.

The RPA carries out land eligibility inspections on all land, where BPS or agri-environment schemes are claimed. This is to ensure payments are made accurately.

On common land, the eligibility is checked using the latest satellite images. There will also be a small amount of physical checks of the land. These checks are done for the following reasons:

  • To check the land cover and land use on commons and not land boundaries which the RPA cannot change because they are legally defined.
  • To survey the eligible area of a common.

How will I know if the eligible area of a common has changed?

After the RPA has checked a common, if the eligible area has changed, the RPA will write to those that have declared rights to let you know.

These changes may also impact any stewardship or forestry schemes on the land. The new eligible areas for 2023 have been published on: GOV.UK | Commons eligibility checks

What if I do not agree with the new eligible areas?

The letter you receive from the RPA will explain the process to follow if you do not agree with the new area.

The RPA may be able to email a digital map, so that you can see the changes that have been made. It is important that you discuss this with any relevant Commons Association or fellow commoners and consult any relevant scheme guidance before notifying the RPA of changes that need to be made.

Is there a deadline to notify the RPA of changes?

There is no set deadline to notify the RPA of any changes, however, it is worth contacting the RPA within 6 weeks of receiving of your letter. 

This will allow the RPA enough time to consider the mapping changes before the BPS payment is made. 

Will penalties be applied if the eligible area has reduced?

As graziers claim for a common by declaring their grazing rights rather than applying directly for an area of land, this means that no penalties for over-declaring will be applied if the RPA find the eligible area has reduced.

However, the BPS payment may be reduced, if your notional area of the common has reduced. Payments for stewardship and forestry schemes may also be impacted as well.


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