What will happen next? The RDP application will be made at the end of the month, it will then be reviewed in Brussels, but as the Commission effectively shuts down for the month of August it is unlikely that formal approval will issue before late September. The issuing of approval is unlikely to lead to an opening of the scheme in October, as the specifications for GLAS and the other schemes will still need to be finalised. In addition I am sure that testing of the DAFM systems particularly software for the operation of the new scheme will still need to be completed. All of these issues are likely to delay the opening for applications until late November/ early December at the earliest.
Between now and then all interested parties should pay close attention to the development of specifications and the terms and conditions for the new scheme, the fine detail in these documents may be of greater significance for farmers than the contents of the RDP application. Finally it is almost certain that we will see movement on the issue of an appeals board for the commonage review. How this will function and how it will fit in with the GLAS application window is still unclear but I expect more details on this will be available very soon.
While we have no firm indication of what the closing date for applications will be. However for all practical purposes it will effectively be the end of March 2015. Once we get into April, farmers and farm advisors focus will have to shift towards SPS applications. If an application is not finalised by then it will be unlikely to get in to GLAS on the first round. This leaves advisors with a maximum of four months to prepare 25,000 to 30,000 applications. Considering the inevitable slow start this is a tall order. For this reason as well as for political considerations, I am certain that DAFM will not want to delay the opening of the scheme beyond early December. Every day lost after that will have implications for the quantity and quality of applications.