Date published: 30 March, 2015
The assessment of an application will include a discussion with the applicant and may also include a site visit.
In order for the application to progress, case officers must be satisfied by the end of the visit / discussion that the applicant has an understanding of the option requirements and how the plan will fit with their current land management. For example, stock exclusion dates versus forage requirements.
By 'applicant' we mean any individuals responsible for delivery of the contract. For agri-environment schemes this could, for example, be the farmer / crofter, the farm manager or the estate factor.
It is unlikely that the agent completing the Agri-Environment Climate Scheme application is going to be the individual responsible for day-to-day management of the contract.
For Improving Public Access applications this could, for example, be the land manager or scheme administrator.
If a site visit is carried out, this may include a check of the accuracy of submitted maps, the eligibility of certain options or site linkage across the holding.
For Improving Public Access, the visit may include assessing if the linkage to wider existing path networks will be as effective as claimed, whether there are existing obstacles to be remedied as proposed, and are the capital works justified?
Previous non-compliance with the Rural Priorities scheme will be checked prior to any site visit and we will wish to discuss and address any issues with the applicant to ensure this isn't repeated under the Agri-Environment Climate Scheme.
Your application will then be scored using the appropriate scoring criteria:
If an on-site visit is undertaken, the applicant will be invited to enter comments and sign the report.
The signature is recognition of the fact that the applicant was present at the site visit and the comments are an accurate record of what was discussed.
If a site visit is not undertaken and a discussion is held by telephone, the member of the Rural Payments and Inspections Division or Scottish Natural Heritage staff will record on paper a brief description of the main points discussed. An electronic copy of these comments can be made available to the applicant on request.
Types of acceptable amendment
Small changes to the application can be made by the case officer during the site visit or discussion if they meet the following criteria:
- correction of Land Parcel Identifiers (LPIDs). For example, where a hedge is proposed between two fields and the wrong LPID is used
- correcting typographic or arithmetical errors
- transposition errors, for example mixing up numbers like 3, for 8 or for 5
What we cannot accept is wholesale change of the plan, removal of ineligible options or changing the location of options because the applicant has not understood what was being applied for at the time of application.
For example, removing a field from the open-grazed grassland option because insufficient land has been left clear for grazing livestock.
In these circumstances the application is not up to standard and must be rejected.
Once all applications are scored, budgetary restrictions may result in some applications with the same score being approved whereas others are part approved or rejected.
If that is necessary, each application with the same score will be examined locally or by the National Proposal Assessment Committee and a judgement made on which applications are approved, part approved and rejected.
Applicants will be provided with the reasons why an application is part approved or rejected.
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