(This note is not part of the Regulations)
1. These Regulations allow the Secretary of State to make payments of aid, in accordance with the Regulations, to farmers who reduce their flocks of ewes (regulation 3). The Regulations comply with Council Regulation (EEC) No. 2078/92 (OJ No. L215, 30.7.92, p.85) on agricultural methods compatible with the requirements of protection of the environment and the maintenance of the countryside (“the Agri-environmental Regulation”). The aid scheme implemented by these Regulations form part of the zonal programmes made by the United Kingdom in accordance with article 3 of the Agri-environmental Regulation. Those programmes were approved by the European Commission in accordance with Article 7 of that Regulation.
2. Payment will be at the rate of £25 for each ewe by which the flock is reduced and calculated in accordance with the Regulations (regulation 8). The rate of payment may be reviewed.
3. Aid will be available to farmers who have participating production units (defined in regulation 2(1)) which are within the areas indicated on maps deposited at the offices of the Welsh Office Agriculture Department, Cathays Park, Cardiff CF1 3NQ. The areas included are all “disadvantaged land” or “severely disadvantaged land” for the purposes of the Hill Livestock (Compensatory Allowances) Regulations 1994 (S.I. 1994/2740).
4. Applicants for aid are required to give undertakings to the Secretary of State set out in regulation 3 and the Schedule. The undertakings relate to the stocking density of specified animals on “eligible moorland” on “participating production units”; to the management of “participating production units” and “eligible moorland” on them, and to the number of “ewes” kept. The undertakings are for an “extensification period” of 5 years (all quoted terms are defined in regulation 2(1)). The number of ewes kept on the holding may be increased above the level specified in the undertakings only with the permission of the Secretary of State given in accordance with regulation 6.
5. Regulation 4 provides for information and evidence which should be included in or accompany applications. The Secretary of State must acknowledge applications. Regulation 5 specifies circumstances in which the Secretary of State can or must refuse to accept an application.
6. Regulation 7 makes provisions for changes in occupation of the land subject to the undertakings (including on the death of the person who gave the undertakings). It enables the Secretary of State, in accordance with the regulation, to accept undertakings from a new occupier for the remainder of the extensification period. It specifies circumstances where the Secretary of State may treat the undertakings by the original occupier as terminated and recover all or part of any aid already paid if undertakings are not given by the new occupier within 3 months of a change of occupation.
7. By regulation 9, successful applicants for aid and those who have given undertakings under regulation 7 must allow a person authorised by the Secretary of State and specified other persons to enter the land for the purpose of monitoring of compliance by farmers with the undertakings and of the effectiveness of the schemes; reasonable assistance must be rendered to such persons.
8. Where a person who has given undertakings fails to comply with them, or there is failure without reasonable excuse to comply with the requirements of regulation 9, the Secretary of State may treat the undertakings as terminated and withhold or recover all or part of any aid due or paid. In the case of failure to comply with an undertaking, the Secretary of State may only withhold or recover aid after providing written reasons for his proposed action, affording an opportunity to be heard by a person appointed by the Secretary of State for the purpose, and considering the report of the appointed person (regulation 10). In accordance with regulation 10(4) and (5), the Secretary of State may also treat the undertakings as terminated — but not recover or withhold aid in respect of a period which has passed — where he is satisfied that the aid would duplicate other assistance. Regulation 11 creates an offence in relation to making false statements.
9. Producers who give undertakings under the Regulations will be participating in an extensification programme in accordance with the measure referred to in Article 2(1)(c) of the Agri-environmental Regulation. The Regulations permit the transfer and temporary lease of rights referred to in the first indent of the second paragraph of Article 7(4) of Commission Regulation (EEC) 3576/92 (OJ No. L362, 11.12.92, p.41, amended by Commission Regulation (EEC) 1720/94, (OJ No. L181, 15.7.94, p.6) laying down detailed rules for the application of the individual limits, national reserves and transfer of rights in the sheepmeat and goatmeat sector. The said second paragraph will therefore apply subject to the disapplication in the said first indent.
10. The Regulations apply to Wales only.