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Land Ownership, Control and Withdrawal

The applicant must be able to demonstrate that it has the ability and the legal right to carry out the activities to be funded on the specified land and that this arrangement will remain in place for the period of the contract and any associated monitoring period. For most activities funded through Rural Priorities Options, the applicant must therefore own and occupy the land or have a secure tenancy.

If you do not yet own and occupy the land or have a secure tenancy, then you must provide evidence that either

  • you have completed the purchase and occupy the land or
  • the secure tenancy (see below) has been signed and is in effect

before you commit your Proposal.

There is a single exception to this, which is where RP funding is actually sought towards the costs of purchasing land or real estate as part of the project. In this case, the land or real estate costs must be considered to be eligible ( Project expenditure eligible costs) and the relevant papers must be provided to the Case Officer before you commit your Proposal.

A landlord can apply in respect of land that is in hand or let out on a seasonal basis only. If any land included in the application is leased out on a seasonal basis, it will be the responsibility of the applicant to ensure that all scheme requirements are met.

Secure Tenancy

A secure tenancy agreement must detail all of the following:

  • a description of the subjects of the agreement i.e. the geographical area in question;
  • the duration of the agreement. In practice, an agreement will be effective from the date that the Statement of Intent is submitted (at the latest) and for
  • annual recurrent activities should cover the full five years of the activity;
  • capital activities would have to be seven or eight years long, as it must last for at least five years after the date of the last payment under Rural Priorities to meet monitoring and compliance requirements;
  • the rental details and timing of payments, if any; and
  • the details of responsibilities and liabilities.

For a community group wishing to undertake path works on someone else's land, an exchange of letters detailing the above information, perhaps attached to a map of the route, would demonstrate sufficient control for an application to Rural Priorities.

All tenants

If you are a tenant or contractual licensee, you must

  • discuss the proposed application with your landlord to make sure it does not break the conditions of your tenancy or licence, and
  • submit a Landlord Notification Form with your Proposal. You cannot receive final approval from Scottish Ministers for your Proposal without this form.
  • If you intend to apply for grant to plant trees under any of the Woodland Creation options then you must get your landlord's consent to the change of land use. Please ensure that you complete the Landord's Consent form. Please note that you must submit this form in addition to the Landlords Notification Form.

If the landlord does not expressly consent to the activity by the time you commit your Proposal, the application for funding will not be considered.

An applicant, e.g. a community group, wishing to undertake work on land it does not own may:

  1. encourage the landowner to apply. The beneficiary bears the liability and the risk.
  2. enter into a secure tenancy agreement with the landowner and then can apply itself. The beneficiary bears the liability and the risk.

Multiple landowners

An applicant wishing to undertake work across a number of landowners' land may:

  1. encourage the landowners to apply. For a path network, each and every landowner would submit its own part of the overall project in a co-ordinated fashion. ( Collaborative Applications) The beneficiary (landowner) bears the liability and the risk.
  2. enter into a secure tenancy agreement with each landowner and then apply itself. It may submit an application for a path network if it can demonstrate sufficient control of the land for the required period of time - see above for agreements and secure tenancy. The beneficiary bears the liability and the risk.

Non-Land Based Options

Similarly, organisations may wish to carry out non-land based activities that can be funded through Rural Priorities Options (mainly Information and Awareness Raising) in relation to land that they do not own, e.g. leaflets encouraging the public's use of path networks, DVDs or CDs promoting educational farm visits, websites, etc. As above, the organisation should seek permission of the landowners for their land to be included in the project. This would usually be done by an exchange of letters.

In this case, the liability is borne by the organisation which is the beneficiary of the Rural Priorities application and contract. However, the risk of not delivering a non-land based activity would be relatively slight when permission has been sought before the application.

LIABILITY and RISK

Short term tenancies

  • If you have a tenancy or a licence with less than five years to run you must complete a Landlord Declaration form and ask your Landlord or the landowner to sign the declaration on that form. This will enable the landlord/landowner to confirm that they will make sure your commitments under any five year Options would continue to be met if you stopped having control over the land during the five years of your commitment. The landlord or new tenant must enter into a successor's agreement within three months of the tenancy or licence ending by submitting a completed Successor's Request Form. Otherwise you will have to repay the scheme payments already paid, with interest. Depending on the circumstances, you may have to pay a penalty. Please refer to the guidance on successions.
  • You cannot apply for land-based Options on seasonal held land, including arable, if your lease is for a period of less than a full year.

Change of Occupiers

If the new occupier of the land does not take on the Rural Priorities obligations you have committed to, you will normally need to repay all or part of the payments you have already received, plus interest.

If you are a tenant or licensee and stop having control over the land during the five years of an Option undertaking, the landlord or new tenant must enter into a 'successor's agreement' by completing a Successor Request Form within three months of the tenancy or licence ending otherwise you will normally have to repay the scheme payments already paid, with interest. Depending on the circumstances, you may have to pay a penalty. Please refer to the guidance on successions.

You must let your RPID area office know about any changes affecting the legal occupiers of the land the scheme applies to.

Withdrawal from the Scheme

If you withdraw from a Rural Priorities Option which has a 5 year undertaking, you should write to your RPID area office immediately explaining why. Unless you can meet the "force majeure" criteria you will normally need to repay any payments you have already received, plus interest. You may also have to pay a penalty.