Older News

Posted on 30 July 2019

Farmers should be able to take advantage of a package of measures as they look to develop their existing businesses and open up new opportunities for revenue generation.

That’s the view of Adam Barrass, rural chartered surveyor and practice manager at Vickers & Barrass, who works closely with many farmers, supporting their growth and development ambitions.

Posted on 09 July 2019

The Countryside Productivity Small Grants Scheme has now opened its second round of funding. If you were granted funding in round 1 you may be eligible to apply for round 2, if you have not claimed more than £9000 in round 1. Round 2 is open between 9 July 2019 and midday on 3 September 2019.

Posted on 25 June 2019
Farmers across North East England must treat the latest changes to farming subsidies cautiously and prepare fully, warns a leading firm of land agents and rural chartered surveyors. Laura Carrick, rural chartered surveyor at County Durham based Vickers & Barrass, comments farmers need to start to prepare for post-Brexit changes and the move away from the EU-wide payment system, in the light of the National Audit Office’s early review of the farming programme.

Posted on 12 June 2019

Northern farmers and property owners are being urged by land agents and chartered surveyors Vickers & Barrass to keep close tabs on changes to septic tank regulations to avoid breaking the law. 

Posted on 29 May 2019

Hundreds of people could be locked-out of property rental because of new rules coming into effect this summer, according to Vickers & Barrass.

The Tenant Fees Act 2019, which is the Government’s approach to banning letting fees paid by tenants in the private rented sector and capping tenancy deposits, comes into force later this week (1 June).

Posted on 08 May 2019

Vickers & Barrass has renewed its sponsorship of the Northumberland County Show, helping to support the next generation of farmers.

The County Durham-based practice will follow last year’s successful involvement as sponsors again of the ‘Young Sheep Handlers’ class, which sees anyone under the age of 16 presenting any breed of lamb for judging.

Changes to Natural England general licenses
Posted on 01 May 2019
News came last week that Natural England had announced that its three general licences for the control of 16 bird species, including corvids and pigeons, were revoked on 25th April 2019 (last Thursday). Previously, the three licences subject to the legal challenge cover 16 bird species, including several members of the crow family (crows, magpies, rooks, jackdaws and jays), feral and wood pigeon and number of invasive non-native species (such as Canada goose).

It is expected that, over time, many situations which were covered by the three general licences will be covered by one of the new licences. Natural England is undertaking new licensing assessments to support lethal control of certain birds in defined situations, such as:

Hedgerow and Boundary Grant - Upcoming deadline
Posted on 24 April 2019

Applications to the Hedgerow and Boundary Grant must be submitted by Friday 3rd May 2019.

This grant is designed to help farmers and land managers restore existing farm boundaries and is available to those who are not in any other stewardship schemes. The maximum grant available is £10,000. 

Posted on 15 April 2019

New government plans that will see landlords unable to evict tenants at short notice, could lead to a lack of locally available rental property, says a Crook estate agency.

Edd Forster, property sales manager at Vickers & Barrass, which handles dozens of lettings across Weardale, was commenting on moves to protect renters from ‘unethical’ landlords and provide them with more long-term security.

Grant Funding Available
Posted on 27 March 2019

Hedgerow and Boundary Grant

Funding for:
• Planting new hedgerows
• Gapping up
• Stonewall restoration

Deadline- 3rd May 2019
Funding Available - £10,000 (maximum)

Posted on 13 February 2019
A controversial dispute by a Lanchester farming couple to transform their farming business has been won after revised plans got the green light. 

The news will see ambitions by local farmer Tony White and his wife Norma to have a permanent residential dwelling on their mixed arable and cattle enterprise come to fruition. 

Public rights of way- Know your rights!
Posted on 11 February 2019

Most land owners will have public rights of way (footpaths, bridleways, restricted byways and byways open to all traffic) crossing their land and it is important to have an understanding of your rights and how to protect yourself from the consequences of the public deviating from designated routes.

Exam Success
Posted on 18 December 2018

Congratulations to Charlotte Burnett of our Crook office who has successfully achieved fellowship of the Central Association of Agricultural Valuers.

Charlotte specialises in a range of work including valuations, landlord and tenant matters, town and country planning and agricultural subsidies and grants.

Christmas Opening Times
Posted on 11 December 2018

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year from all the team at Vickers & Barrass Chartered Surveyors

Utility Companies - Your right for compensation
Posted on 13 November 2018

Has a Utility Company caused damage to your land? For example, when repairing a pylon or fixing a pipe?

It is a common misconception that negotiating a claim against the company yourself will avoid professional fees, as Utility Companies are obliged to pay for an agent to act on your behalf.

Exam Success
Posted on 25 October 2018

Congratulations to Laura Carrick of our Tow Law office who has successfully achieved chartered status and has become a member of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors.

Laura specialises in a range of professional work including town and country planning, purchase and sale, landlord and tenant matters and agricultural subsidies and grants. If you require assistance in any of these areas please do not hesitate to get in touch with Laura.

Our guide to a successful farm tender
Posted on 17 October 2018

Here in brief are some tips to creating the best Tender Application:

Personal Statement

A Personal Statement is a descriptive narrative written by the applicant explaining, the following:
  • Training, 
  • Qualifications, 
  • Work experience,
  • Involvement in clubs and societies
  • Any details land or property which you currently own or rent and advise whether it would be retained if you were successful.

Sell yourself in the best possible like as this gives the Landlord and their agent an overall image of who you are.

Basic Payment Scheme 2018 - Exchange rate confirmed
Posted on 02 October 2018

The exchange rate for BPS 2018 has been confirmed. This rate is set over an average of the exchange rate in the European Central Bank during September.

BPS 2018: € 1 = £0.89281

Claims will be at a very similar level to last year with a minor decrease of approximately 0.2% less than 2017.

Posted on 26 September 2018

Landlord responsibilities

You’re a landlord if you rent out your property. As a landlord you must:

  • keep your rented properties safe and free from health hazards
  • make sure all gas and electrical equipment is safely installed and maintained
  • provide an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) for the property
  • ensure your property meets the Minimum Energy Efficiency Standards (MEES)
  • protect your tenant’s deposit in a government-approved scheme
  • check your tenant has the right to rent your property if it’s in England
  • give your tenant a copy of the How to Rent checklist when they start renting from you (you can email it to them)
  • fit and test smoke alarms and carbon monoxide alarms

Protect yourself

Posted on 01 August 2018

Two of the regions’ most prominent rural Chartered Surveyors, Adam Barrass and David Coulson have joined forces under the banner of Vickers & Barrass to provide comprehensive professional services throughout the North East and Cumbria.

Posted on 29 June 2018

DEFRA has allocated 5.7 million pounds of funding to tackling Bovine Viral Diarrhoea, which currently costs UK farmers 60 million pounds per year through mortalities, infertility and poor performance.

Posted on 15 May 2018

An agricultural worker/wagon driver is required on a large scale livestock and arable farm including cattle, sheep and pigs.

Class 1 wagon license ideally required but applicants without would be considered.

Posted on 28 March 2018

If you have not yet received your Basic Payment for 2017, bridging payments are due to be made on 4th April and should arrive in bank accounts from 6th April. Bridging payments will be based on 75% of the estimated BPS 2017 claim value. If you have not been paid and are expecting a bridging payment, a letter or an email should have been sent to you on Monday (26th March). If the RPA do not have an email for you, it will be sent via letter. As system payments are still being made, this may mean that you could receive a bridging payment letter but your payment may be made by the system in the meantime.

Posted on 28 March 2018

We will be in touch with existing clients in the coming weeks. If you are not an existing client and would like assistance with this year’s application please do not hesitate to contact the team at Vickers and Barrass. The closing date for applications without receiving a penalty is the 15th May 2018.

Posted on 28 March 2018

A reminder that the application window is open! You can apply for up to £10,000 of capital grant to assist in the restoration of dry stone walls. Please contact Pat at Vickers and Barrass as soon as possible if you are interested in making an application. Deadline for applications 30th April.

Posted on 13 March 2018

Under permitted development rights new agricultural buildings were limited to a size of 465m2. New regulation will allow a building of up to 1000m2 to be erected under permitted development rights.

Posted on 13 March 2018

Application window now open (13 March 2018- 15 May 2018)

Following attendance at a Common Agricultural Policy briefing where the Rural Payments Agency provided an update regarding the 2018 scheme year, Laura Carrick advises that this years application submission will be more complex and time consuming for many holdings than in previous years due to a significant re-mapping exercise that has been undertaken.

Posted on 08 March 2018

If anyone was not able to get their copy of last week’s Farmers Weekly, as a thank you to farmers for their contribution to the community during the recent weather conditions, you can access last week’s edition for free on the Farmers Weekly Website.

Posted on 08 March 2018

We have now been made aware that the application window will open on the 13th March until the 15th May. We will be in touch with existing clients in the coming weeks. If you are not an existing client and would like assistance with this year’s application please do not hesitate to contact the team at Vickers and Barrass.

DEFRA Agricultural Policy Consultation
Posted on 08 March 2018

A ten week consultation has opened which aims to allow farmers to voice their opinions on the future of agricultural policy. If you would like to contribute, you can access the online system at https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/the-future-for-food-farming-and-the-environment, email agricultureconsultation@defra.gsi.gov.uk or write to Agriculture Consultation Team, 1b - Future Farming Directorate, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, Nobel House, 17 Smith Square, London, SW1P 3JR. The deadline for comments is 8 May 2018.

Posted on 08 February 2018

The application window is now open to apply for small grants of a minimum of £3,000 up to a maximum of £12,000. Grant funding is available for up to 40% of the project.

This scheme includes standard farming equipment which is not eligible under the LEADER grant scheme including fixed cattle and sheep handling systems which meet specification.

Posted on 07 February 2018

Block 1) 15.71
Block 2) 22.79

Guide price £150 +VAT per unit.

Please contact Pat or Laura at Vickers and Barrass if you are interested in purchasing.

Posted on 02 February 2018

Basic Payment 2017- Bridging Payments
Posted on 31 January 2018

For those who have not yet received their Basic Payment for the 2017 scheme year, the RPA have announced that bridging payments of 75% will be offered to those who have not been paid by the end of March 2018.

Entitlements wanted!
Posted on 24 January 2018

The entitlement trading window is currently open. Vickers and Barrass have had a number of enquiries about the purchase of entitlements specifically SDA moorland and SDA.

To identify if you have surplus entitlements inspect your Basic Payment Application form. Part H will show entitlements you hold and there type. Compare this with part C which states the amount of land you wish to claim on as you may have more than you require.

Countryside stewardship hedgerow and boundaries grant
Posted on 24 January 2018

A reminder that the application window is open! You can apply for up to £10,000 of capital grant to assist in the restoration of dry stone walls.

LEADER grants available
Posted on 24 January 2018

A new hand book has been released detailing updated guidelines. Funding is available at a maximum of 40% however a project must be considered “above standard” in order to be eligible for the grant.

Countryside Stewardship 2018- Now open!
Posted on 16 January 2018

Mid-tier and Higher-tier agreements are now available along with four new simplified offers:

  • Arable Offer
  • Lowland Grazing Offer
  • Mixed Farming Offer
  • Upland Offer

The new offers are non-competitive unlike the existing mid and higher-tiers offers, therefore all valid applications under this scheme are guaranteed funding. Application packs must be requested by 31st May 2018 and the closing date for applications is 31st July 2018.

Planning Fee Rise
Posted on 16 January 2018

On the 17th of January the Town and Country Planning (Fees for Applications, Deemed Applications, Requests and Site Visits) (England) (Amendment) Regulations 2017 (SI 2017/1314) will come into force in England. This regulation has brought a rise of 20% on local authority planning fees. For example the fee for a residential dwelling has increased from £385 to £462. On top of the percentage increase, there has also been a review on the costs of some applications.

Posted on 10 January 2018

The RPA claim that they have paid more than 91% of claimants by the end of December, however we are finding that claim statements and remittance advice are very slow to follow. If you would like us to check that your payment is correct following receipt of the documents, please do not hesitate to contact Vickers and Barrass.

Posted on 10 January 2018

Michael Gove made an announcement at the Oxford Farming Conference on 4th January declaring that Basic Payment Scheme subsidies have been confirmed from the point of leaving the EU up until 2024, although it is not clear at what level. During this 5 year transition period suggested changes include introducing a straight cap at a maximum level or through a sliding scale of reductions, to the largest payments first in order to allow farmers to prepare for the changes.

Important Dates For Your Diary
Posted on 03 January 2018

DEFRA has produced a new guide which highlights key dates in what you should and should not do throughout the year to the cross compliance rules. You can access this on https://www.gov.uk/guidance/cross-compliance-2018

Countryside Stewardship- Woodland Creation Grant
Posted on 02 January 2018

The application window for the Woodland Creation Grant opened on the 2 January 2018. Applications must be submitted by 16th February 2018.

If you are interested please express your interest as soon as possible.

Countryside Stewardship 2018- Mid-tier applications update
Posted on 02 January 2018

We are still not aware of the launch date of the mid-tier “simplified” packages that should become available in January 2018. We will provide more information as soon as it becomes available. If you are interested please express your interest as soon as possible.

Cross Compliance 2018
Posted on 20 December 2017

DEFRA have published the guide for Cross Compliance 2018. Please follow the below link to read the full document.


Simplified Countryside Stewardship
Posted on 07 December 2017

Simplified Countryside Stewardship

On 30 November 2017 DEFRA announced details of four simplified Countryside Stewardship applications which will open in the New Year. The four new offers are online arable offer, lowland grazing offer, upland offer and mixed farming offer. These will provide tailored options making it easier for farmers and landowners to apply. DEFRA have said that paperwork for the new offers is quicker and easier and they have streamlined evidence checks and made the applications shorter to save time in the application process. They have also confirmed the new scheme is non-competitive. Scheme handbooks and details on how to apply will be published in the New Year to coincide with the application window opening.

Update for Hedgerow and Boundary Grants Applications 2018
Posted on 07 December 2017

Natural England has confirmed the above will be rolled out early in 2018 (although no exact date has been published). The total budget from DEFRA has been increased to £10 million and the maximum grant farmers can apply for has risen to £10,000.

Basic Payment Scheme Entitlement Values 2017
Posted on 28 November 2017

(Exchange rate: €1 = £0.89470)

Payment regionEntitlement ValueGreening payment ratePayment in Pounds Sterling
SDA Moorland€49.63€21.32£63.48/ha

The RPA will begin making payments on the 1st December 2017. After making payment the RPA will send a Remittance Advice and following this a Claim Statement.

Overview of grant funding that is available to support rural businesses
Posted on 20 November 2017

Countryside Productivity Scheme (Large scale grants)

Water Resource Management (minimum of £35k, grants can cover 40% of the eligible project so the minimum cost would have to be £87,500)
To improve farm productivity through more efficient use of water irrigation and to secure water supplies for crop irrigation by the construction of on farm reservoirs.

Countryside Productivity Scheme Announcement
Posted on 03 November 2017

The second phase of the Large Grants Scheme is now available for projects which are linked to adding value to agri-food and improving farm productivity. This is in addition to grants for water resource management and reservoirs and also grants for improving forestry productivity that became available earlier in the year.

Employment Vacancy
Posted on 24 October 2017

Weardale, County Durham

Farm worker required on mixed cattle and sheep enterprise working as part of a family unit. Work to include general livestock duties with over 100 suckler cows and 1500 breeding ewes including tractor driving. Permanent position for correct applicant. Salary is negotiable.

Employment Vacancy
Posted on 24 October 2017

Tow Law, County Durham

Herds person required for 760 acre dairy farm operating robotic milking machines which milk approximately 700 cows per day on a zero grazing system. To manage and work as part of a team. Accommodation is available. Salary is negotiable.

Posted on 22 October 2017

Granting of derogation allows farmers in an NVZ to increase the amount of manure nitrogen they can apply on their farm from 170kg per hectare to 250kg per hectare, per year.

To be eligible for derogation you must have and maintain at least 80% grassland during 2018. There are conditions attached to derogation and applicants need to provide a written declaration that they will abide by the conditions. Farmers wishing to apply for grassland derogation must do so between Monday 2 October and Friday 29 December 2017.

Posted on 03 October 2017

The RPA has now set the exchange rate for BPS 2017. The rate is set using the average exchange rate between the pound and the euro throughout September.

The 2017 BPS payments from euros to pounds will be at €1 = 0.89470. The BPS 2016 exchange rate was €1 = £0.85228.

Farmers to benefit from £1.5 million The Prince’s Farm Resilience Programme for second year
Posted on 28 September 2017

Small farm businesses across Teesdale and Weardale are being invited to take part in the second year of the highly successful The Prince’s Farm Resilience Programme, run by The Prince’s Countryside Fund.

Reminder! Countryside Stewardship Deadlines
Posted on 27 September 2017

Any applications for the countryside stewardship mid- tier application must be submitted along with supporting evidence to Natural England before 30th September.

If you have been offered a Higher Tier agreement your negotiation schedule must also be submitted to Natural England by 30th September indicating if you are happy with the proposed draft agreement or detailing your proposed changes or amendments.

Woodland Creation Grant- Reopening for applications
Posted on 27 September 2017

Woodland Creation- The application window is open from 2 January to 16 February 2018. The woodland creation grant is a standalone capital grant under Countryside Stewardship. Farmers and other land managers can apply for a 2 year capital works programme to plant and protect young trees. If you’re eligible, a supporting maintenance grant of £200 per hectare for 10 years may also be available.

Countryside Stewardship Agreements - Changes to grant payment method
Posted on 20 September 2017

Currently in each agreement year you must submit a payment claim for your multi-year revenue options. A valid payment claim will receive two grant payments, the advance and final payment. This is split 50/50, into two equal payments (subject to any reductions or penalties).

Posted on 10 August 2017

The RPA have published amendments to the Greening rules for BPS in 2018 which needs to be considered when planting any winter crop. For full details please click on the link https://www.gov.uk/guidance/bps-2018#basic-payment-scheme-2018---changes-to-greening-requirements

Posted on 21 June 2017

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

NSA North Sheep
Posted on 09 June 2017

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.

NSA North Sheep Major Sponsor
Posted on 02 June 2017

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.

Northumberland County Show
Posted on 30 May 2017

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

Win North Sheep tickets!
Posted on 11 May 2017

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.

Tree and Hedge Cutting Rules 2017
Posted on 11 May 2017

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

Hedgerow & Boundary Applications
Posted on 13 April 2017

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.

Posted on 13 April 2017

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.

National Sheep Association North Sheep announces Vickers & Barrass with Darlington Farmers Auction Mart as major event sponsors
Posted on 13 April 2017

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

Posted on 04 April 2017

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.

Planning Update- “Fixing our broken housing market”
Posted on 09 March 2017

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.

Capital Grants
Posted on 09 March 2017

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.

Countryside Stewardship: Mid-Tier and Higher-Tier 2017 Applications
Posted on 09 March 2017

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.

Posted on 09 March 2017

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.

Posted on 15 February 2017

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.

Posted on 15 February 2017

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.

Posted on 15 February 2017

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.

Posted on 19 January 2017

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.

Posted on 19 January 2017

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.

Posted on 22 December 2016

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.

Posted on 16 December 2016

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.

Posted on 01 November 2016

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.

Posted on 01 November 2016

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.

BPS 2016 Outstanding Transfer of Entitlements
Posted on 01 November 2016

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.

Posted on 01 November 2016

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.

Incorrect 2015 Payments
Posted on 01 November 2016

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.

Simprim Farm, Coldstream, Berwickshire TD12 4HG
Posted on 06 October 2016


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.

Posted on 05 October 2016

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.

Posted on 05 October 2016

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.

Posted on 27 September 2016

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 www.gov.uk/government/publications/livestock-movements

Posted on 27 September 2016

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.

Waste Exemptions
Posted on 15 September 2016

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.

Posted on 08 September 2016

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.

Countryside Stewardship Schemes
Posted on 08 September 2016

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.

Simprim Farm Dispersal Sale
Posted on 24 August 2016

Jointly favoured with instructions from R G Russell & Company Limited

Vickers and Barrass

Posted on 16 August 2016

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.

Posted on 16 August 2016

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.

Posted on 16 August 2016

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.

Posted on 16 August 2016

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.

Posted on 16 August 2016

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.

Vickers & Barrass Expand Staff
Posted on 10 August 2016

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.

RPA Issues
Posted on 10 August 2016

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!

Posted on 10 August 2016
Posted on 10 August 2016

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:

BPS 2015 Update
Posted on 05 July 2016

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

Posted on 16 June 2016

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.

Posted on 17 May 2016

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.

Basic Payment Scheme Claims For 2016
Posted on 10 March 2016

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.

Posted on 05 March 2016


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.

Posted on 30 January 2016

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).

Posted on 30 January 2016

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.

Environmental Stewardship Payments
Posted on 30 January 2016

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.

Posted on 30 January 2016

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.

Basic Payment Scheme: What is happening over the next three months?
Posted on 18 November 2015

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”.

Posted on 19 October 2015

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”

Basic Payment Scheme: New Greening rules for 2016
Posted on 30 September 2015

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.

Smoke & Carbon Monoxide Alarm (England) Regulations 2015
Posted on 30 September 2015

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.

ELS/HLS Payments Delayed
Posted on 08 September 2015

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.

Posted on 02 September 2015

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.

The basic payment scheme & common land
Posted on 02 September 2015

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:

Posted on 30 July 2015

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.

Middle Tier Applications
Posted on 17 July 2015

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.

Countryside Stewardship Applications
Posted on 17 July 2015

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.

Northumberland County Show
Posted on 13 April 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.   

Basic Payment Scheme Latest News
Posted on 13 April 2015

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.

Common Agricultural Policy February 2015 upate on available schemes
Posted on 17 March 2015

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

Common Land Policy Update
Posted on 17 March 2015

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


The Basic Payment Scheme in England 2015
Posted on 09 March 2015

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

Posted on 03 March 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.

Posted on 03 March 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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