Ireland: Northern Ireland needs to review all 742,000 fields currently used to claim the Single Farm Payment if it is to avoid heavy European Union (EU) fines. The Government has already forked out GBP 31 million for the 2004-6 scheme years and it is feared further errors could lead to a huge increase in fines.
In response, Ministers have announced a GBP 4.8 million project, similar to the mapping update carried out by the Rural Payments Agency (RPA) in England last year, to update the agriculture department’s Land Parcel Identification System (LPIS).
Sixty technical staffs have been deployed to carry out the review which will use aerial photographs to produce the maps. Barring setbacks the review should be complete by early 2011.
The department will be particularly keen to avoid the England’s mapping update chaos when the RPA sent wildly inaccurate maps to farmers. Gildernew admitted her staff faced a tough job and urged farmers to be helpful.
“This mapping project can only deliver if map revisions are taken seriously by farmers when they are completing their SFP applications,” she said.
In the meantime the Minister said she would join with Northern Ireland’s three MEPs to fight the threat of further EU fines for single payment claim errors.
Source: Farmers Guardian