On receiving a complaint that an area is overgrazed or unsuitable supplementary feeding is taking place, the site is visited to see whether the vegetation is natural/semi-natural, or agriculturally improved, and to judge whether overgrazing or unsuitable supplementary feeding is likely to be happening.
If the site is potentially overgrazed, our advisers will conduct a simple vegetation survey using a nationally agreed method. If this survey indicates that the site is overgrazed, the farmer(s) involved will be given management prescriptions to prevent further damage.
These usually take the form of a limit to stock numbers on the site, and this is based on the productivity of the vegetation on the site. Following this, the RPA undertake regular checks to ensure that management prescriptions are being followed.
If the site is potentially subjct to unsuitable supplementary feeding, our advisers will visit the farmer involved and discuss their livestock management and feeding practices.
If unsuitable supplementary feeding is taking place, a management prescription will be set to prevent further damage. This might involve moving a feed site, changing feed types, or stopping feeding altogether on that site. Natural England advisers will re-visit the site to check that the management prescriptions are being followed.
The management prescriptions described above are issued by the Rural Payments Agency on behalf of the Secretary of State. If a farmer is found to have deliberately breached a management prescription, the RPA may withhold some or all of that farmer's SPS or RDPE payments.