Impact on English commons of introducing the area-based Single Payment Scheme
CCRI, United Kingdom
This paper assesses the impact on the active commoners in England of the incremental implementation (starting from a low-base in 2006) of an area-based the Single Payment Scheme (SPS). There is evidence that the grazing of commons by rightsholders is under threat because of the switch to the area-based SPS system as it is operates in England. This appears to be a widely held belief but there is little, if any, evidence to support this. There is evidence about the impact of the SPS on upland farming generally, likewise there is information about the concerns about the management of common land. However, specific data relating these is rarely collected. This paper links the two and highlights some areas for further examination and testing, nevertheless there are clear implications for the future management of commons and the significant areas of high nature value (HNV) land they represent. Equally significant is the likelihood that a land-based payment may become more wide spread following the CAP reforms currently under discussion and due to be introduced in 2013. Therefore it is important for the messages concerning the impact of commons arising from the English experience to be fed into the current debate surrounding these policy changes.
Key lessons learnt are identified from the English experience including how the relevant agencies might respond to these now and ahead of the 2013 policy review. It also considers the impact on local institutions and governance on common land and whether this has strengthened the locally based decision making. This may have important implications for wider issues such as responding to climate change. The paper concludes with a discussion around the place of commons within national and European policy, especially the Common Agricultural Policy by raising important questions for the discussion and further investigation.