EU auditors warn over out-of-date farm mapping data

The European Court of Auditors criticised Scotland for using out-of-date aerial and satellite imagery. Picture: PA
The European Court of Auditors criticised Scotland for using out-of-date aerial and satellite imagery. Picture: PA
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The EU-wide systems for mapping and identifying farm fields eligible for subsidy might be helping to reduce the number of errors in support payments to farmers – but there is room for improvement, the European Court of Auditors (ECA) warned in a report published yesterday.

And Scotland was criticised for using aerial and satellite imagery which could be out of date and for “significant delays” in updating mapping imagery, due to time pressure on staff, when the Land Parcel Identification Systems (LPIS) used to assess entitlements under the common agricultural policy was scrutinised by the ECA.

The auditors visited Austria, Germany (Saarland and North Rhine-Westphalia), Ireland, Poland and the UK (Scotland) – and stressed in their report that reliable and up-to-date data was essential to ensure payments were legal and regular.

However, while the imagery used should be renewed every three to five years, it found that some of that used in Scotland dated back to 2008 – and the auditors estimated that 6.9 per cent of the total had been photographed before 2010.

The report also found that ineligible areas had also been registered as land parcels eligible for CAP payments. These included rocky areas and steep slopes without green cover, and woodlands claimed for as grazed areas, which visits to the area revealed weren’t grazeable.

But the Scottish authorities also gained praise from the auditors for good practice in ensuring that any new parcels, changes in ownership or the right to claim on land parcels were supported by background documentation, signed by all parties in the exchange

The report also concluded that while Member States had made progress, the systems had not yet been fully adapted for greening.

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