Commoners who have been denied cash by the Rural Payments Agency (RPA) are set to receive £8 million in backdated farm payments after winning a landmark legal battle.
For over a decade, the RPA had refused to give active commoners the right to claim for all the farmed area of a common, insisting part of the land be reserved for other commons right holders who were often not farmers.
This left a number of ‘naked hectares’ of unclaimed land and meant some commons graziers were forced to take lower payments.
Supported by the NFU’s Legal Assistance Scheme, a group of Minchinhampton and Rodborough commoners started the successful case against the RPA in 2014.
Speaking on behalf of the Minchinhampton and Rodborough commoners, Peter Gardiner said: “It is really good news that it looks like our claim will finally be 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 the NFU’s Legal Assistance Scheme and Loxley Solicitors.”
NFU vice president Guy Smith said he was pleased to see the payments being made because they had been a long time coming.
“We look forward to the RPA completing their retrospective commons work for BPS, ideally ahead of the 2017 payment window opening on December 1, so we see commoners being paid correctly what they are due alongside all other categories of claimant later this year”, he added.