2017-07-31 

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Commoners Win Major Legal SPS Challenge

The NFU has welcomed news that top-up payments - totalling millions of pounds - will be paid to eligible commoners in the next few days as a result of a major legal win.

Previously the RPA denied active commoners (i.e. farmers) the ability to claim for all the farmed area of a common, reserving proportions of the land for other commons right holders who were often not farmers.

Countryside

The challenge was started by Minchinhampton and Rodborough commoners in 2014. The case was supported by the NFU’s Legal Assistance Scheme (LAS) throughout and the members have been advised by Loxley Solicitors.

Peter Gardiner for the Minchinhampton and Rodborough Commoners said:
“It is really good news that it looks like our claim will be finally settled, though ‘the ink is not yet dry’. The extra money will make a big difference to the management of our commons and we hope it will have a similar effect elsewhere. It has been a long and bumpy track since 2005 when this all started and we would never have made it without the support of NFU, the Legal Assistance Scheme and Loxley Solicitors.”

NFU LAS chairman Trevor Foss, said:
“It is great news that our members are finally going to be paid after a long battle fought by the NFU and supported by its Legal Assistance Scheme funding, without which our members would not have been able to take on this case. This highlights once again the strength of the NFU and its LAS and also the need for Farmer and Grower members to ensure they are in fact paying the extra £33 for their LAS subscription in order to benefit from this unique Scheme which offers real value for money.”

NFU Vice President Guy Smith said:
“These payments have been long in coming and it is pleasing to see they are now being made to eligible commoners. It starts to tick off one of the many outstanding issues that remain on our RPA ‘to do list’. We look forward to the RPA completing their retrospective commons work for BPS, ideally ahead to the 2017 payment window opening on 1 December, so that we see commoners being paid correctly what they are due alongside all other categories of claimant later this year.”

The NFU Uplands Forum said:
“There have been many challenges faced by commoners and in particular those in the uplands over the last 18 months, initially being paid last for 2015, then earlier payments for 2016, but then correction payments being issued for many for 2015, 2016. Many commoners have had a lot to cope with, so news that the RPA is adjusting historic payments as a result of this legal challenge now is welcome. This will help commoners, especially in the uplands at a time when farming is under financial pressures.”

NFU

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