Federation working to resolve BPS mapping errors on commons

Congratulations to Caldbeck Commoners Association for their stoical persistence in calling RPA to account over mapping errors on their common. At their AGM in early December, RPA finally admitted they made  mistakes in mapping the eligible and ineligible areas on the Caldbeck common. The ineligible area of the common has been reduced from  635ha to 53ha - worth around £33.5k per year. The Caldbeck commoners will get their extra payment and entitlements restored from 2015.

It’s been a battle and all credit goes to Caldbeck commoners and David Morley of H & H Land who undertook the vegetation survey, including photographic evidence to demonstrate what was actually growing on the ground in the areas RPA called "ineligible". They then pressed RPA hard to take action and met with RPA inspectors on the common. It appears that RPA could not detect the difference between heather moorland and rock – something to do with the shades of brown in the satellite images!

While this has been going on the Federation has been liaising with RPA to get the other commons in Cumbria with large mapping errors resolved in a way that doesn’t incur too much expense on behalf of the commoners. We have come up with the following steps:

1.      RPA will send us electronic versions of the commons maps early in the New Year (they may need a bit of reminding and pushing and we will do so). We will print the maps out and send a hard copy to the Commoners Association (we’ll have to make a small chargefor the printing)

2.      Members of the Commoners’ Association can then review the maps and see whether they  agree with RPA’s assessment, and if not, why not? (Common land parcels can now be seen on-line and can be checked for mistake but they can't be recorded). Mistakes can be marked on the map along with photos of the actual vegetation on the ground.

3.      RPA say they will run a surgery session in their Carlisle office (date yet to be worked out) to discuss the issues face-to-face and work out what is needed to resolve any discrepancies.

We have let the relevant Commoners' Association know about this process. If you haven't heard from us and consider you have a large mapping error on you common, please get in touch.