EU regulations governing the administration of the Basic Payment Scheme, the Areas of Natural Constraints Scheme and other area-based schemes require that full and comprehensive administrative checks, including Ground or Remote Sensing (Satellite) inspections where applicable, are fully completed to ensure eligibility with the various schemes requirements before any payments issue. There are certain minimum numbers of inspections that must take place annually under the various schemes.
The method of selecting of cases for inspection is set down in EU regulations and is undertaken by means of a risk analysis process with cases being selected on a risk and random basis. All cases to be selected for inspection must be eligible beneficiaries under the various schemes. Therefore the selection of cases for inspection, while commencing after the closing date for receipt of applications, i.e. 15th May, is an on-going process so as to ensure this specific regulatory requirement is adhered to.
My Department accepted late applications up to 9th June 2019, with a penalty deduction. Furthermore, as amendments to applications could be accepted by my Department up to 9th June, and allowing for the Preliminary Checks process whereby applicants could amend their application further up to 19th June as a result of issues notified to them by my Department, the details of the land to be subject to the inspection process cannot be finally established until these periods have elapsed.
The process of a Remote Sensing inspection involves a comprehensive review of the satellite imagery received at two stages during the year, and also the assessment of additional imagery, where required, to ensure that the actual claimed area in the application form corresponds to the area farmed by the applicant, that the crop types are as claimed and that ineligible land or features are not included for payment purposes. The governing regulations further prescribe that where it is not possible to make an accurate determination on the eligibility of a parcel or parcels of land by means of an assessment of the available imagery, a field visit must be undertaken to verify the position on the ground.
Some 6,840 applicants have been selected for a Remote Sensing inspection in respect of the various 2019 area-based schemes. As of 7th October my Department had received inspections results in respect of 62% of these cases for final processing. Of these cases over 78% have been finalised and processed to payment stage to date. Where an over-declaration in area is identified as part of the inspection process, officials in my Department will be in contact with the applicant. The issuing of the ANC payment is also subject to other checks in addition to land eligibility, e.g. stocking density and stock retention, which must be met before payment can issue.
My Department continues to finalise the outcome of Remote Sensing inspections on a daily basis to ensure that payments due are issued as quickly as possible.