Various LEADER Local Action Groups (LAG) are located across the region providing support to help increase farm productivity with grants of up to 40%.

Examples of projects that LAG groups may support include

  • A project to improve the overall performance and sustainability of an agricultural holding
  • An investment to support animal health and welfare improvements
  • The processing, marketing and/or development of agricultural products
  • Investment in reservoirs and irrigation systems

If you have an idea for a project and would like to discuss whether it may be covered by the grant scheme please contact Laura Carrick


A tremendous day was had by all at National Sheep Association North Sheep yesterday with Vickers and Barrass and Darlington Farmers Auction Mart taking home the prize for best outdoor stand! A special thank you goes to W H Smith & Sons for hosting the event, to Ian Potts of Redburn Farm, Rookhope, John Smith-Jackson of High Town, Melkridge and N G Beveridge of Low West House Farm, Tow Law for providing a spectacular show of sheep on the stand and to Davina Lovegreen Catering for providing the fabulous refreshments.



We are now only a few days from one of the most important sheep events of the years, NSA North Sheep. This is only held in the region every two years and we are absolutely delighted that as major sponsor the event is being held on our doorstep here in Tow Law.

With clients stretching from the Scottish Borders to North Yorkshire, Adam Barrass practice manager at Vickers & Barrass Chartered Surveyors explains why they were so keen to be a part of next year’s NSA North Sheep:

“We are very closely linked to the Smith family at West Shields Farm and the wider farming industry in this area. Many of our clients are sheep farmers and when the NSA announced that 2017 North Sheep would be held so close to our main office and on one of our clients’ farms we felt it was important to be part of it.

“Having visited the site today it looks in tremendous condition and it’s clear to see that the Smith family have worked tirelessly to put on what is undoubtedly going to be a fantastic event.”

As major sponsors of the event Vickers & Barrass are very privileged to be involved and want to reiterate to new and existing clients that NSA North Sheep is an important event to attend in terms of learning and knowledge transfer.

“We are eager to welcome people to our stand to discuss the future of farming, and also the procurement of livestock with our partner, Darlington Farmers Auction Mart, NSA North Sheep is going to be an ideal opportunity for new and existing clients to find out what we can offer their farming business,” adds Adam.

Vickers & Barrass and Darlington Farmers Auction Mart are running a tremendous competition and there will be refreshments throughout the day.  Up for grabs are some fantastic prizes, including an ATV trailer, free land agency and accountancy work, free livestock commission, tickets to major agricultural shows and much more.

Vickers & Barrass (formerly T H Vickers & Sons) are firmly cemented in the local rural and agricultural community and have been operating as auctioneers and valuers for over 65 years. They offer a wide range of services from sales of farm property and farming stock, farm management, valuations, dispute resolution, compensation and compulsory purchase claims and Basic Payment Scheme claims together with Environmental Stewardship matters.

Darlington Farmers Auction Mart is a long established Auction centre based in the heart of County Durham within the town boundary of Darlington. DFAM is a main centre for sales of prime cattle and sheep in the north east of England. The company also handles large numbers of store and breeding stock at weekly and seasonal sales throughout the year.

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Vickers and Barrass are pleased to be in attendance at Northumberland County Show sponsoring the Young Sheep Handlers Class and Supreme Pedigree Beef Champion Class. We would like to wish everyone good luck during the show season and look forward to welcoming existing and new clients to enjoy our hospitality at our stand located on Row F



BPS claimants are required to abide by the closed period which runs from 1 March to 31 August where cutting and trimming hedges and trees are banned. However derogation can be given in the following circumstances

  1. to enhance the environment, improve public or agricultural access, or for reasons relating to livestock or crop production;
  2. to cut or trim a tree in a hedgerow during the month of August for the purposes of sowing oil seed rape or temporary grass.

Requests must be in writing to the RPA and work should not be started until a response has been received.


Vickers and Barrass are giving away two tickets to North Sheep every other Friday leading up to the event and we still have four tickets left to give away!

To enter “like” our page Vickers and Barrass Chartered Surveyors on Facebook, share our post about the competition and comment with the name of who you would like to take with you.


The Rural Payments Agency has confirmed that bridging payments will be made to those farmers who have not yet received their BPS 2016 payment from 1 April. When questioned regarding the date “from” the RPA said they would pay 75% of the claim based on the information they held at that date but could not confirm that all outstanding payments would be looked at from 1 April. If you have are still encountering problems regarding your outstanding payment and would like some further help please contact the Tow Law office.

Moving forward to the 2017 BPS claims the deadline for these applications is 15 May 2017. If you are having difficulty completing your application and would like some assistance then please contact Adam Barrass on 01388 730095.


The 2017 Hedgerow & Boundary applications are still available and the deadline for submitting applications is 28 April 2017. All applications, maps and supporting documents must reach Natural England by this date and late applications will not be considered. Vickers & Barrass have had a very good uptake for this and if you are interested or would like any further guidance please contact the Tow Law office.


Following on from our note that the application window is to open “very shortly”, it opened officially on 10th March. Deadlines for application submissions are 30th September 2017 for Mid-Tier and 5th May for Higher-Tier. If you wish to discuss your eligibility and suitability for Countryside Stewardship please do not hesitate to contact Pat Cotterill.


The 2017 application window is now open. Vickers and Barrass have a breadth of experience within the area of Common Agricultural Policy Subsidies honing on Pat Cotterill’s past experience working within the Rural Payments Agency.

Please contact Vickers and Barrass if you require assistance to submit your 2017 application.


Natural England has confirmed that the application window should open “very shortly”, however at present no specific date has been given.

Higher- Tier applications are on an invitation only basis, therefore if Natural England considers you eligible you will have been contacted.

If you are interested in discussing a Mid-Tier Application and its suitability for your holding, please contact the office we would be happy to discuss your individual circumstances.


Natural England continues to promote the Hedgerow and Boundary applications for 2017. Farmers can apply for up to 200m of stone walling and may be eligible to a grant of £5,000 (maximum). There are various other capital items including hedgerow laying and gapping up and this grant is also up to a maximum claim of £5,000. The scheme is competitive and is open to all farmers. If your ELS agreement expires prior to 30 June 2017 then you are eligible to apply. For existing UELS agreement holders which expire this year further confirmation and guidance will be made available from Natural England upon request. For further information please contact Pat Cotterill at the Tow Law office.


A recent Government White Paper has been produced outlining the Governments proposals for “Fixing our broken housing market” of which the paper has been titled.

It is clear within this paper that a shift in thinking is emerging, an attitude more encouraging towards development in the countryside.

This shift opens up opportunities for land owners with potential development sites becoming more attractive due to changing policy as well as those with existing buildings prime for residential conversion.

Within applications submitted by Vickers and Barrass we are finding that a more favourable outlook towards development is emerging within our local planning authorities both within and outside of designated areas such as our local North Pennines Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

We have significant experience dealing with planning matters and would be happy to offer our advice and services to achieve your assets full potential.


Natural England continues to promote the Hedgerow and Boundary applications for 2017. Farmers can apply for up to 200m of stone walling and may be eligible to a grant of £5,000 (maximum). There are various other capital items including hedgerow laying and gapping up and this grant is also up to a maximum claim of £5,000. The scheme is competitive and is open to all farmers. If your ELS agreement expires prior to 30 June 2017 then you are eligible to apply. For existing UELS agreement holders which are expiring this year further confirmation and guidance will be made available from Natural England upon request. For further information please contact Pat Cotterill at the Tow Law office.


The Rural Development Programme for England (RDPE) for the North East Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) area has been announced. There is grant funding available totalling £9.7 million to businesses in the food processing, tourism and rural business development sectors. Applications are being sought for projects that will create jobs, make the business grow or bring more money into the local rural economy. The capital grants will be made available from the RPA and will fund up to 40% of a projects cost with the minimum amount totalling £35,000. The projects overall costing would need to be over £87,000 to be eligible for the funding. Businesses must be located in rural areas of County Durham, Northumberland and Gateshead or within the North East Rural Growth Network boundary. For further information please contact our Tow Law office or call into the mart office on sale days.


As we approach the start of BPS 2017 window we understand that applications will be available to submit in early March. Paper applications will only be made available to those who do not use an agent or who applied on paper last year. The Rural Payments Agency are actively encouraging farmers who did not apply online last year to register with them and apply for the 2017 BPS on line. If you have not yet registered with the Rural Payments Agency and you require further assistance with your 2017 application then please contact either Adam Barrass or Pat Cotterill.


The Rural Payments Agency has recently released a statement in relation to the 2016 Basic Payment Scheme.  They state that they have paid 91% of eligible 2016 BPS claims to farmers in December and the RPA are continuing to work on those who have not yet had their 2015 queries resolved.

If you have not received your 2016 BPS claim then the RPA will be writing to you over the course of the next few weeks to explain why you haven’t been paid, what will happen next and what to do if you require additional financial support. Vickers and Barrass do not expect the letter to be specific to your claim and we understand from the RPA this will be a generic letter telling you they have not made a payment to you. These letters should be sent directly to the claimant and the RPA will ask you to contact your agent to discuss the contents of the letter.

The RPA continue to say they will pay claims as soon as they can but will not specify and exact date but are working to pay everyone be end of March 2017. However the RPA continue to state that due to the nature of certain claims they know it won’t be possible to make payments by the end of March and if this does happen they will once again write to you.

If you have received your 2016 BPS claim and you disagree with the amount you were expecting you should wait until you receive your Claim Statement. These statements should be sent to you some time in February.  If you still don’t agreement with the amount then you should email the RPA and explain why you think the amount is wrong.

The statement bulletin continues to say that Paul Caldwell the Basic Payment Operations Director wants to personally reassure all of you that both he and his team are dedicated to making the remaining BPS 2016 payments as quickly as possible.

However, at the minute our view is the RPA remain in disarray and cannot answer specific questions, answer or reply to letters, or queries’ relating to your claim which is unacceptable.


Just to add further confusion we understand that some farmers have received their 2017 midyear ELS/UELS payment from Natural England.  Natural England have until June to make these payments but it appears that some payments “have slipped through” early.


Under the Farming Ammonia Reduction Grant Scheme funding is currently available for self supporting covers for slurry stores and floating covers for slurry stores and lagoons. The grant is only eligible to benefit existing stores.

Payment Rate
Self-Supporting Stores- £61/sqm
Floating Covers for Slurry Stores and Lagoons- £11.20/m

Please contact Vickers and Barrass for more details or if you are interested in submitting an application.


Vickers and Barrass would like to wish all of our clients a very merry christmas!

Christmas Opening Times:

The office will be open as usual until the 23rd December. We will re-open on the 3rd January.



The Rural Payments Agency has been sending a large number of BPS 2015 payment corrections statements to clients this week. However it is worth while checking your statements as a number of these new statements have anomalies and the RPA are still making errors to the payments.


The Rural Payments Agency has confirmed they will not be posting a hard copy of your 2015 BPS entitlement statement to you or your agent.  They are in the process of developing a system whereby entitlements should be allowed to be viewed on line towards the end of the year. They are also hoping that their system will again allow you to transfer entitlements on line.


The RPA are still working through the BPS 2016 entitlement transfers and are aiming to complete all of the outstanding work by end of this month. They have advised that when they have completed the transfer confirmation is sent electronically via your messages on the Rural Payments system. Vickers and Barrass have found this not to be the case and we would advise you to contact the RPA helpline if you have not received confirmation by the end of the month.

In recent weeks Vickers & Barrass have come across various issues which have not been correctly addressed by the RPA and have found the answers their helpline are providing are not helpful to at anyone. Each month priority for the RPA seems to change – in a recent letter to some of our clients the RPA say at the moment their focus is on making payments for BPS 2015 claims and then making payments for BPS 2016. The RPA’s method of working continues to baffle us all.


A subsidised broadband installation is now available if you cannot access an affordable broadband service with a speed of at least 2 Mb per second. The government define an affordable service as one that costs no more than £400 a year including installation, equipment and monthly fee.

If you are interested and would like to see if you are eligible, please do not hesitate to contact Laura at our Tow Law office.


The RPA has published further information about the calculation used for common land in relation to BPS 2015 payments. In addition, a common land grazing rights document is now available which gives the total eligible area for each common, the number of Livestock Units declared and the hectares allocated per livestock unit. This document assists in checking BPS 2015 payments on common land as the RPA have not provided a calculation breakdown as was practice within the SPS.



On Saturday 1 October 2016 Vickers and Barrass, Chartered Surveyors, Tow Law in conjunction with Harrison and Hetherington, Farmstock Auctioneers, Carlisle conducted a Farm Dispersal sale at Simprim Farm, Coldstream on behalf of R G Russell & Company Limited. The sale followed a change in farming policy and a comprehensive selection of used and nearly new farming equipment was presented by Hugh Russell and his staff. A large crowd of local and distant buyers ensured a consistent trade for all categories.

Leading Prices

Class Lexion 630 Montana combine harvester (’12 reg) £96,000: Case CVX 1155 4WD tractor (’05) £15,000: John Deere 6910 4WD tractor £14,200: MF 135 tractor £3,650: CAT Challenger 75C £15,000: CAT TH 330B telescopic forklift (’04) £13,300: CAT TH 62 AG telehandler £6,200: JCB tracked digger £4,100: Vaderstad Rapid A400 S £13,000: Vaderstad 500 Carrier £7,200: Kuhn Vari-master 123 five furrow reversible plough £11,500: Atlas 2500 (Airtec) £7,200: Cultipress 3.3m £6,300: Welger RP520 Baler £7,600: Murray bale handler £1,875: Amazone ZA-M 1500 fertiliser spreader £2,450: Vaderstad folding Cambridge rollers £1,800: KRM front mounted packer roller £1,800: Mercedes Benz Unimog, PAM 408M £2,000: Artic trailer £1,500: Tipping grain trailer £1,450

Additional Items

JD7810 Tractor-R479 BNH £12,500: JCB Loadall R712JCU £9000: Marshall 12T Grain Trailer £4,150: Tri axle trailer £1,700: 10t Marshall trailer £1,500: 7.5m Vaderstad rollers £1,350: Lemken 4fr Rev Plough £1,400


Up until now we had only received confirmation for funding for agreements signed before 23 November 2016. We now have confirmation that there will be funding for Rural Development agreements after 23rd November up until the point that Brexit takes effect. Where these agreements run beyond the exit from the EU the required funding will be met by the government. This means that funding will be made available for Countryside Stewardship agreements with a start date of 1st January 2017.


Vickers and Barrass were pleased to see Laura graduate (via live stream in the office) from Harper Adams University with a 2:1 degree in BScHons Rural Enterprise and Land Management on Friday 30th September. The Graduation of the Class of 2016 was made more special for Harper Adams through receiving the highest placing modern university in the Sunday Times University Guide the day of graduation.



From week commencing 12 September the RPA have started to make FDM reimbursement payments. FDM was collected from 2014 SPS payments and a reimbursement will be made to those whose BPS 2015 claim value is in excess of 2,000 euros. The criteria for deducting FDM originally from 2014 SPS payments is different to the criteria for reimbursing it. This means farmers who didn’t have it deducted originally could still qualify for a reimbursement payment. The RPA will be sending a remittance advice which will clearly show the payment is for a FDM reimbursement.
If you are in doubt please contact the Tow Law office.


DEFRA are making changes to temporary holding numbers (CPH). You don’t need to do anything unless you receive a letter from British Cattle Movement Service. The BCMS are making changes to simplify the rules on reporting livestock movements and some farmers will be able to simplify how their farms are registered. This may reduce the number of livestock movement reports they need to submit. A new 10 mile rule has been introduced which means you will be able to apply to register under the same CPH number all of the land you use within a 10 mile radius. This will cover land that you use permanently or on a temporary basis. All land covered by a single CPH whether permanently or temporary will be treated as part of that CPH for disease testing and restriction purposes. The BCMS are hoping this will significantly reduce the amount of work involved in movement reporting and recording. To merge your CPH numbers you will be asked for the CPH number you wish to merge, the type of livestock you keep, the length and type of tenure (owned or leased). For further information and guidance please see


If you registered your waste exemptions in 2013 you must now re register with the Environment Agency to avoid risking a hefty fine.

The (EA) is expecting to receive approximately 70,000 farmers to apply on line to either re-new their application or apply for a new licence. These waste exemptions allow you to handle small quantities of a low risk material and dispose of these on your land. The EA should have written to you recently to let you know your licence will be expiring soon. There are 26 exemptions that can be applied for and these must be registered to a specific place.  This licence can be for your own farm and the outlying land managed as part of your farming unit.

If you need to re-apply or for any further help please contact Pat at the Tow Law office.


Natural England have not yet confirmed the dates for Mid or Higher Tier applications but are hopeful the 2017 round will be based on similar dates they set for 2016.

In March this year the application period opened and will close at the end of this month and the applications will be ranked, scored and selected in October. Agreements will be offered to applicants between October and November.  Agreements which are either accepted or rejected must be submitted to Natural England by 15 December for a 1 January 2017 start date.

The new Hedgerow and Boundary applications are expected to be rolled out in February next year. Vickers and Barrass were very successful in the last round and obtained approximately £60,000 of grant aid funding for clients from Natural England for walling and hedgerows. If you have an Entry Level Stewardship Agreement which has or is expiring this year and you are interested in applying for the Hedgerow & Boundaries grant please contact Pat at the Tow Law Office.

DEFRA have confirmed that all EU subsidies will be paid until 2020; however Vickers and Barrass are unsure how this will affect any schemes offered by Natural England. The new Higher and Mid-Tier schemes run for 10 and 5 years respectfully which would take any agreement holder passed 2020. We have put this question to Natural England and they have said they have not received any guidance and are waiting for further information.


Vickers & Barrass were recently appointed as sole agents for this impressive Grade II listed 6 bedroomed farmhouse situated in a prime location in Northumberland.  Highlaws Farm is a renowned mixed stock and arable farm consisting of approximately 121.10 hectares (299.24 acres) of productive pasture and arable land together with 4.04 hectares of woodland all in a ring fence.  The farm also benefits from a good range of traditional and modern outbuildings.

For more information please visit our website or telephone Adam Barrass on 07796 306404.


Jointly favoured with instructions from R G Russell & Company Limited

Vickers and Barrass

Chartered Surveyors

in conjunction with

Harrison & Hetherington

Farmstock Auctioneers, Brokers & Valuers

Will offer for sale by auction, due to a change in farming policy, on

SATURDAY 1 OCTOBER 2016 at 11 am


A comprehensive selection of agricultural machinery and farming equipment to include


For full inventory and pictures please click here


The National Sheep Association has announced that the major sponsors for one of the sheep industry’s most important events, NSA North Sheep, will be Tow Law based rural chartered surveyors Vickers & Barrass in conjunction with Darlington Farmers Auction Mart.  Returning to County Durham 2017 NSA North Sheep will take place on Wednesday 7 June at West Shields Farm near Tow Law, courtesy of W.H Smith & Sons a family run partnership managed by John Smith alongside his two sons David and Alan and his nephew Jim

Vickers & Barrass (formerly T H Vickers & Sons) are firmly cemented in the local rural and agricultural community and have been operating as auctioneers and valuers for over 65 years.

Darlington Farmers Auction Mart is a long established Auction centre based in the heart of County Durham within the town boundary of Darlington, DFAM is the main centre for sales of prime cattle and sheep in the north east of England, the company also handles large numbers of store and breeding stock at weekly and seasonal sales throughout the year.

Vickers and Barrass offer a wide range of services from sales of farm property and farming stock, farm management, valuations, dispute resolution, compensation and compulsory purchase claims and Basic Payment Scheme claims together with Environmental Stewardship matters.

With clients stretching from the Scottish Borders to North Yorkshire, Adam Barrass practice manager at Vickers & Barrass Chartered Surveyors and Andrew Armstrong director and senior auctioneer of DFAM explain why they were so keen to be a part of next year’s NSA North Sheep.

“We are very closely linked to the Smith family at West Shields Farm and the wider farming industry in this area. Many of our clients are sheep farmers and when the NSA announced that 2017 North Sheep would be held so close to our main office and on one of our clients’ farms we felt it was important to be part of it.”

NSA North Sheep is a key biennial showcase for the UK sheep industry and has a reputation for bringing together industry innovators. The thousands of visitors expected to flock to West Shields Farm will see first-hand how a progressive County Durham farming family operates their 900 acre traditional mixed farm with a commercial sheep flock of 1,350 Mules. They will also be able to attend talks by industry professionals and businesses aimed at giving farmers the chance to bring themselves up to date with the latest developments in sheep farming.

Event organiser Heather Stoney-Grayson, commenting on the announcement, said

“Vickers and Barrass and Darlington Farmers Auction Mart have been supporters of NSA North Sheep for years so it is wonderful that they are to be the major sponsors this year.  Support like this is absolutely integral to the success of the event. Vickers and Barrass have really strong ties to the local farming community and they are well respected and have an excellent understanding of the sheep industry so they are without doubt a perfect fit for North Sheep and our values.”

As an organisation the National Sheep Association (NSA) represents the views and interests of sheep producers throughout the UK, receiving tremendous support from everyone connected with the industry. The NSA is funded by the memberships of its sheep farmers. Together with the many industry related activities it is involved with, it aims to ensure that it plays a key part in every aspect of the sheep farming sector.

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Following the UK’s decision to leave the EU there has been a lot of concern and uncertainty regarding future EU funding for farmers. As predicated by Vickers & Barrass the Treasury have announced that farmers will receive funding until 2020. In a recent press release it appears that all funds that would otherwise come from the EU for the years up to and including 2020 that currently pay for Basic Payment Scheme, the greening element and the Young Farmers Top up payment will be met by the UK after withdrawal from the EU.


Natural England has recently written to agreement holders who have ELS and HLS agreements with rotational arable options. This is to inform Natural England where your rotational options are located. These options have to be clearly marked on your claim form which should have been submitted prior to 16 May 2016, however if the location has been changed or you were unsure where the option was going to be then Natural England need to be informed before 1 September 2016. There is further guidance on their website.


Details of the new Countryside Stewardship are still unclear. The deadline for new applications is the end of September but it is not clear if there is sufficient time for applications to be received and processed by the end of November when the Autumn Financial Statement takes place. A spokesperson said “EU funded schemes are vitally important to driving investment in our rural economy and delivering environmental benefits. There is no justifications not to continue with these schemes up until the UK leaves the EU” The statement continues to say they are encouraging members to make applications as this is important to wildlife habitats and the planting of hedgerows must continue.


If you have applied to the Rural Payments Agency for derogation to cut/trim hedges during August then you should have received confirmation from them. No cutting or trimming of hedges is allowed during August without this derogation unless for highway safety. Under Cross Compliance rules cutting are allowed from 1 September. In December this year you should complete the Annual Inventory of Sheep, this is compulsory and you may be penalised by the Rural Payments Agency if you fail to complete this form.


Natural England has confirmed they have received further guidance for the Hedgerow & Boundaries capital grant applications which was open earlier this year. Applicants should find out by19 August 2016 if their application has been successful. Anyone who has had an ELS agreement which has expired, you can apply to Natural England for a grant of up to maximum £5000 for walling and hedgerow planting over a 2 year period. A new window for further applications will begin in February 2017. Please note this is a competitive scheme and you application will be scored on an individual bases.


RDPE Funding including Countryside Stewardship Applications. Defra are yet to make a decision regarding ongoing and new RDPE funding. They have confirmed that discussions with the treasury are still ongoing however in the mean time they have clarified that:

  • all existing RDP schemes remain in place
  • new applications to schemes such as Countryside Stewardship are still being accepted and appraised
  • all current claims from existing agreements and contracts should be paid.

On the 4th August the Bank of England made the decision to lower their base rate from 0.5% down to 0.25%. Along with this they have introduced a package of measures which aim to increase the flow of money within the Economy through increased spending. The package of measures includes the Term Funding Scheme (TFS) which aims to provide banks with close to base rate borrowing to allow the benefits of this reduced rate to help the cut in interest rate more effectively benefit households and firms.
The reduction in interest rates and borrowing costs consequently makes investment a more attractive proposition. So how does the change in Bank of England base rate affect the agricultural land market?Agricultural land is seen as a safe haven for investors. The uncertainty that is felt within the economy in the lead up to leaving the EU is likely to support investment in the Agricultural Land Market. This is likely to be the case for the near future until more information is known about future UK trade deals, import and export tariffs and decisions about future farming subsidies.  This view is supported by recent market evidence through sales carried out by Vickers and Barrass.


Away from the office the RPA are sending out letters to claimants who have queried their 2015 Basic Payment Scheme. This letter is now stating that in the next few months they will be reviewing the payment and will let the claimant know. Given that we are now into August and at best it would seem the RPA are going to take two months to look any discrepancy, the likelihood would be that any top up payments or corrections will be made just as the 2016 payment window opens in December for the 2016 payment!


We are pleased to announce Laura Carrick has joined the team at Vickers and Barrass as assistant Land Agent to help with the increasing demand for our professional rural chartered surveying services.

Laura has recently gained a Bachelor of Science with Honours degree in Rural Enterprise and Land Management from Harper Adams University in Shropshire. Laura comes from a farming background in upper Weardale where the family run a flock of Swaledale sheep alongside the family’s moorland contracting firm and is well equated with the local area and is a keen member of Weardale Young Farmers Club.

During her degree Laura spent her year’s placement working for the County Farms and Smallholdings department of Warwickshire County Council where she worked in a team which managed the council’s agricultural property. This included 5000 acres of agricultural land offering starter holdings to help new entrants to the industry get a foothold on the farming ladder. This experience accompanied with her degree and local knowledge should prove to be a valuable asset to Vickers & Barrass Chartered Surveyors 

Laura will be working towards her Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors and The Central Association of Agricultural Valuers exams in the coming few years in order to become a fully qualified Rural Chartered Surveyor.

If you see Laura within the auction mart please introduce yourself and say hello.  She will be happy to assist with any professional matter which will as with the rest of the team will be treat entirely confidential.



Payment Window Extension to 16 October 2016

DEFRA has not yet confirmed whether this payment window extension will take place but it is likely that England and Scotland will both want to make use of the extended penalty free period. However the RPA are continuing to make Basic Payment 2015 claims regardless of whether or not the extension takes place

If you have not received your 2015 Basic Payment and you are experiencing extreme hardship you can contact the Farming Community Network (FCN). You can email them or call them on 03000 111 999 and their lines are open from 7 am to 11 pm every day. The people at FCN are all volunteers and are farmers or who have been previously linked with agriculture and can sympathise with problems farmers are now facing.

Top ups to Bridging Payments

If you have received a bridging payment, the Rural Payment Agency is continuing to make top up payments and this should be followed by your Claim Statement. The majority of payments should have been completed by 30 June 2016. However you should be aware that as with the 50% bridging payments the top up payment will be issued on the basis of what the RPA’s sytem believes the current BPS 2015 claim value to be. This may not always be correct and if your top up payment is incorrect please email You must quote your trading name and SBI number in the subject.

Correction Payments

RPA are finalizing arrangements for BPS 2015 correction payments to be calculated and issued (reconciliation payments). If you have sent a letter or emailed them earlier this year with a query it is hoped that the RPA should be addressing the reconciliation payments shortly.

If you have been affected by any one the above or you think your payment is incorrect then please contact Vickers & Barrass for further assistance.


516 Acres (208.85 ha) or thereabouts of grazing land available on a Grazing Licence for cattle and sheep from 11 July 2016 to 15 October 2016 for cattle and from 11 July 2016 to 1 March 2017 for sheep.

Available as a whole or in 3 lots

Lot 1 258.53 acres (104.59 ha) or thereabouts

Lot 2 194.06 acres (78.43 ha) or thereabouts

Lot 3 63.79 acres (25.80 ha) or thereabouts

Tenders are invited by 12 noon on 4 July 2016 on the appropriate tender form.

For further information please contact Adam Barrass


Vickers and Barrass will be in attendance at Northumberland County Show and Wolsingham Show in conjunction with DFAM and pleased to sponsor Eastgate Sheep Show and Stanhope Show. We would like to wish everyone good luck during the show season and welcome clients to enjoy our hospitality at the Northumberland County and Wolsingham.

Northumberland County Show Website

Wolsingham Show Website


Basic Payment Scheme claims for 2016 may be submitted online using the Rural Payment service or you can obtain a BP5 form from the RPA. Hopefully later this week it may be possible to begin the process.

You can now view and change your personal and business details and transfer entitlements online and hopefully around mid-March you claim can be submitted.

If you registered for BPS in 2015 there is no need to re-register. If you are a new applicant and have not previously registered you must contact the RPA on 03000 200 301. Once you have registered and received your Customer Registration Number (CRN) you must then sign into the Rural Payments Services enter the CRN and security number and then create your own password. Once you have completed this stage you will then be able to see your own details, your land parcels and the entitlements you hold. The business details must be checked and any persons not connected/or who has left the business can be removed. Additional people can be added to your business providing they have a CRN number.

Your land and entitlements can also be viewed on line together with your land parcels associated with your SBI. Each parcel has been listed as arable, permanent grassland, permanent crops or non-agricultural land and will show the eligible area you can claim for BPS.

If you submitted an RLE 1 to remove an ineligible feature this work may not have been completed and may not be shown your maps. If the work has not been completed then an exclamation icon should be displayed next to the land parcel. You do not need to submit a further RLE 1.

Your maps can be printed but only by individual field basis. Last year the RPA sent a full set of RLR maps and where possible these should be used again for your 2016 BPS claim. However if there have been any mapping issues then it is recommended that you print the field from the land viewer. The key things to check are the land parcel is associated with your SBI, if you have submitted and RLE 1 to check the amendments have been carried out or not. If there are further changes you need to make print off the field parcel from the land viewer and make the amendments/drawing on the map. You must also complete an RLE 1 form and this should be submitted to the RPA prior to 16 May 2016. We would strongly recommend you take copies and send your RLE 1 forms and maps Royal Mail Special Delivery.

If you are transferring land it is advisable to transfer the land on line and should transfer from one party to the other overnight. If you are transferring part of a field then you will need to complete and RLE 1. Only whole fields can be transferred on line.

The RPA have confirmed that claim statements will be sent out via post unlike the entitlement statements, these are available to view on line. The transfer of entitlements can also be completed on line. The deadline for transferring entitlements is 16 May 2016.

If you would like further information please do not hesitate to contact the Tow Law Office.

For further information regarding Common land and shared grazing:

The Rural Payments Agency has confirmed that you can apply on line and submit your 2016 Basic Payment application from 19 March. For 2016 BP scheme rules go to



Approximately 55 acres of productive grassland to let which is suitable for mowing and grazing sheep only. The land benefits from good secure road frontage access and mains water.

The land is to be let on a seasonal grazing licence from 1 April 2016 to 30 November 2016.

Tenders are invited by 12 noon on 18 March 2016 on the appropriate tender form.

For full details and to register your intentions to view please email or telephone our office at Tow Law 01388 730095


The LEADER Scheme is a part of the Rural Development Programme for (RPDE) and is funded by the European Agricultural Fund which for Rural Development (EAFRD). Under LEADER, Local Action Groups (LAGs) can allocate funding to local businesses and organisations to help carrying projects which help create jobs in the rural area.

Money is awarded to LAG which can be given to local businesses and organisations that apply for it. The Rural Payment Agency (RPA) manages the LEADER scheme nationally and will make the payments to successful applicants.

Applications can be made by private, public businesses or voluntary organisations such as:

  • Farmers
  • Growers
  • Foresters
  • Other rural businesses
  • Someone wanting to start a business

Grants are available for a range of activities which support at least one of the six LEADER priorities.

  • Support to increase farm productivity
  • Support for micro and small businesses (non-agricultural) and farm diversification
  • Support for rural tourism
  • Provisions of rural services
  • Support for cultural and heritage activity
  • Support for increasing forestry productivity

Follow the links for more information on support to increase farm productivity.

LEADER Equipment for Farm Productivity

MAGIC Postcode Checker UG

NPD Handbook FINAL


Natural England’s payment window is between 31 December 2015 and 30 June 2016 for the environmental stewardship scheme. Claimants should be aware of potential tax issues when gaining payments this is due to payments falling in different tax years or two payments into one tax year.


From February the land viewer for the 2016 Basic Payment Scheme should be available to view digital maps and aerial photography of clients' land online. Unlike in 2015 land cannot be edited and a RLE1 must still be completed however land can now be transferred online. Maps can be printed for the farmer’s use however this system is only able to print one map at a time instead of large parts of the farm steading on one map. At the current time, the RPA will not post or email out full sets of maps as the Land Parcel Identification System (LPIS, formerly the RLR) is being updated in readiness for the Land Viewer being made available.


The RPA have made a further 3,472 payments to claimants making a total 61,172 payments (over 70%) on 27 January 2016. The total value of payments made now stands at over £845 million out of an estimated total fund of £1.43 billion (this was £779 million as at 19th January 2016).

The RPA is also now aware of several instances where it seems either an under or over payment has been made for BPS 2015. As claim statements are being sent out more cases of this nature will undoubtedly emerge. Everyone is asked to check any claim statement they receive to ensure they have received the correct payment.


The Rural Payment Agency (RPA) has received over 88,000 applications for the new Basic Payment Scheme this year. Since all the applications were submitted the RPA have been contacting anyone who they needed additional information from which were missing from their original records. They have also been adding the information from the application forms into their computer system called “Rural Payments”.

So what is next?

October 2015

In October the RPA have been working on land and entitlement transfers. They have been contacting anyone who has sent a RLE1 form to let parties know if their transfers are completed and the person they have transferred too.

November 2015

The RPA will announce the payment rates for the Basic Payment Scheme (entitlement values and the greening payment rate) and the young farmer payment. As mentioned a few weeks ago the exchange rate was set at €1 = £0.73129; all those who applied for entitlements from the National Reserve as new entrants will be contacted to tell them whether their application has been successful.

December 2015

Payments will start from the 1 December. The aim for the RPA is to make the majority of the payments by 31 December. Once the payment has been completed a Remittance Advice which will show the amount paid will be sent. If a payment is not going to be made until before the end of January 2016, the RPA will contact the individual explaining why the payment has not been made and an estimate to when it should be completed by.

January 2016

The vast majority of payments should be made by 31 January, if not the RPA will remain in contact with the individuals informed to when they should be paid. After the Remittance Advice a Claim Statement will be sent. The Claim Statement will show how the RPA have work out the payment and give details of any reductions or penalties applied.

Avoiding fraud

In the past, banks have warned that fraudsters- pretending to be from their bank’s fraud department may try and target farmers who receive subsidy payments. The same fraudulent activity could take place this year, so be aware- particularly as December approaches and payments start.


·         The bank will never ask you for your full online password


·         Your bank will not ask you to make a payment over the phone using your online account. 


Payments of ELS/HLS/OELS/UELS should be starting to reach some client’s bank accounts over the next few weeks but due to the high level of claims Natural England have to process they have until 31 December to make all payments.  In a recent press release they have said “Natural England do expect to keep their commitment to make all payments by the end of December”

If you are at the end of an ELS or UELS agreement you will not receive the normal half yearly payment. To complicate matters you will receive half of the half yearly payment and then the remainder has to be paid to you by end June 2016.  For example if your annual payment was £1,000 the half yearly payment would be £500.  By end of December you will receive £250 and a further £250 by June 2016.

Please note that once Natural England have approved your claim it can take up to 10 working days for the Rural Payments Agency to release your payment.


As Harvest once again comes to an end, many arable farmers are currently deciding which crops to sow for next year. The Rural Payment Agency has published the new greening rule guidance for 2016 which explains in great details the correct measures to take when planning for the 2016 Harvest.

Please follow the link to new guidance: Basic Payment Scheme England: The greening rules 2016


From the 1st October 2015 changes are being made regarding the instalment of smoke and carbon monoxide alarms in rental properties. The Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Alarm (England) Regulations 2015 states it is the landlord’s responsibility to ensure that every floor wholly or partly lived in must be fitted with a working smoke alarm and every room which contains a solid fuel burner (open fire) must be fitted with a Carbon Monoxide Alarm.

It is the landlord’s responsibility to ensure all the alarms are working effectively throughout the tenancy and on the day a new tenancy begins; this includes the fitting, repairing and checking of all prescribed alarms.


With the extension to the dates for the submission of the Basic Payment Scheme and Environment Stewardship claim forms earlier this year and IT issues with the Rural Payments Agency,  Natural England have issued a statement regarding the ELS/HLS payments.

Natural England have said “The European Commission have made the decision  to give all Member States extra time for farmers to submit their claims in the first year of the new CAP.  Advance payments for ES agreements were expected to be paid from October 2015 and the majority paid by November and December.  The Rural Payments Agency & Natural England are working to ensure that agri-environment payments under Environmental Stewardship agreements are made as early as possible”

As a requirement of the EU regulations payments cannot be made until cross checks with the Basic Payment Scheme data has been completed.  As a result from the extension to application dates for BPS and ES claim forms this has had a knock on effect delaying the cross checks and ultimately the payments.

Various organisations are pressing the RPA and Natural England to make payments on time this year particularly given the current commodity prices. 


A new approach to claim on common land through the Basic Payment Scheme; this principally means the eligible area of the common is divided up amongst common land right holders who are using the common.  A farmer who currently has common land rights must demonstrate they are using the common by:

  • Using his rights to turn stock out
  • PArt of an agri-environment agreement on the common; or
  • Contributing to “ the appropriate management of the common by keeping some of it in a state suitable for grazing or cultivation by keeping it clear of any scrub that can’t be grazed, or by some other beneficial activity” (DEFRA,2015).

This should mean any unallocated land will be allocated to farmers who are deemed to be using the common land.

The Application Process

The application form should now be available from September 2015 (delayed from June 2015); and it is advised to be submitted by December 2015 to meet the deadline of the 2015 claim. A single form will need to be completed but additional information or supplement documentation may need to be gathered later, depending on what  the Rural Payment Agency require to confirm usage of any particular common. 

Hill Farmers Allowance/ Upland Transfer Payments

If a farmer with common land rights was also claiming Hill Farm Allowance (HFA)/Uplands Transitional Payment (UTP), any increase in the notional eligible area of the common will have an impact on the HFA/UTP payment received previously. These farmers therefore also need to apply for the additional HFA/UTP payments (from 2009 onwards) they should have received in previous years.


The main changes under the Countryside Stewardship is that applications are scored on their criteria; making this scheme competitive. Applicants will have to maximise the environmental priorities which are selected before by Natural England for the location of their land meaning that not all applications will be successful.


Winter cattle housing available for approximately 30 head of cattle on a bed and breakfast basis. Matfen area, Northumberland. More numbers can be accommodated in due course or as required.

All silage, straw bedding and labour provided.

Contact Adam Barrass for more information.


This scheme is open to all ELS agreement holders who have agreements which expire this year, the new scheme is competitive and all applications will be scored by Natural England.  Successful applications will be informed by mid-November for a start date of 1 January 2016.  Natural England wants to address widespread environmental issues such as water pollution, improving the farmed environment for farmland birds and wild pollinators.  Wild Pollinator and Farm Wildlife Packages applied to the land need to cover between 3 – 5 % of your holding.

A list of options can be found at  You can find which options are available, payment rates, double funding issues and basic management of the prescriptions.  The new prescriptions seem more stringent than those under Environmental Stewardship.  Natural England are more focused on keeping records and producing evidence  for some of the new prescriptions and this evidence will need to be submitted with the annual claim form.

All agreement holders with Environmental Stewardship Agreements that expire up to 31 December 2015 are encouraged to apply for a Countryside Stewardship application well in advance of 30 September 2015.  Agreements expiring during 2016 will be eligible to apply when Natural England open their application window which is anticipated to be early in 2016.  Agreement holders are reminded this is a discretionary scheme with no guarantees that any application will be successful as funding remains limited.


July marks the start of the Countryside Stewardship Scheme (CSS) application window.  Applications must be submitted by the end of September 2015 for a start date of 1 January 2016.  Detailed information regarding the scheme requirements are yet to be finalised and are subject to change.


Important update on your 2015 Basic Payment Scheme Application

Further clarification has been provided by the RPA about where pre-populated BP5 forms will be emailed.  A pre-populated BP5 form should automatically be emailed for any farmer who claimed SPS in 2013 or 2014 and has at least 5 hectares of eligible land.

The form will be emailed to the person who has "submit" BPs claims permission for the farming business on the Rural Payments system.  If there is more than one person associated with the business who has the "submit" permission then a copy of the pre-populated BP5 will be emailed to each person.

Where a Firm of Agents has been set up on the Rural Payments system, the BP5 form should be emailed to the email address held for that Firm.  If however a Firm of Agents has not been set up, a copy of the BP5 form will be emailed to each agent who has "submit" BPS claims permission.

The email addressess used will be those that were held on the system as of close of play on Saturday 11 April 2015 so any amendments now made to emails on Rural Payments will have no effect on where the pre-populated BP5 is sent.

RPA have confirmed that the deadline for submission of Basic Payment is 15 June 2015. 


The Northumbland County Show will be held on 25 May 2015 at the Bywell Estate and we are all hoping it will by 'dry' this year.  Vickers and Barrass are sponsoring the Young Sheep Handlers and the Supreme Pedigree Beef Champion.   

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See below for the Common Land Policy update link for significant sums of money to be reclaimed. 



There is a new Common Argicultural Policy booklet which can be found by clicking the link below.  This has all of the lastest information which DEFRA has produced.

The new Common Agricultural Policy schemes in England: February 2015 update

Please see the attached link.  This guidance explains the rules of the new scheme including who can claim, information on eligibility and what you can grow and do on your land.

The Basic Payment Scheme in England 2015
The Farming Advice Service (FAS) has published two technical articles giving top tips on meeting the cross compliance requirements for cattle identification and registration rules and sheep and goat identification. Whilst this information is based on the cross compliance regime under SPS in 2014, the information is still useful and relevant for the new cross compliance regime in 2015.
From 1 January 2015 new European Regulations came into force regarding existing Environmental Stewardship Schemes. This entails all ELS/UELS/ OELS and HLS agreement holders to submit an annual claim form to Natural England by 15 May each year for the remainder of your agreement. Further information will be sent to each agreement holder in March this year with details of how to make your annual claim; this will be a separate claim to your Basic Payment Scheme submission. It is vital that your claim is received by Natural England prior to the 15 May as there will be a reduction in your payment of 1% per working day until 9 June. Any claim submitted after 9 June will receive no payment for that year. If you have any queries regarding this please contact Pat Cotterill at the Tow Law office.
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