Farm Ireland

Tuesday 20 February 2018

Limerick IFA challenge Dept on LPIS accuracy

Caitriona Murphy

Caitriona Murphy

There is growing pressure to challenge the accuracy of the digitised mapping of farms which is being used by the Department of Agriculture for area-based payments.

Hundreds of farmers have complained to farm organisations that the measurements for their holdings produced by the digitised mapping is "inaccurate" and does not correspond with the previous held measurements of their farms.

Limerick IFA has now called on the IFA national council to select a number of farm cases for a test case challenge against the accuracy of the digitised system.

A successful legal challenge would throw the whole process of digitising of farms into disarray.

A spokesperson for the Department of Agriculture insisted that the mapping was being done by highly qualified personnel, but admitted that the accuracy does depend on the accuracy of the person doing the work.

They have stated that the digitised area of a farm is unlikely to correspond with the land area declared in farm deeds or Land Registry Office certified maps of the holdings, because areas on the farm ineligible for Area Aid Payment are being excluded by the Department of Agriculture in the land area issued to farmers.

Limerick IFA delegate John Fennessy told a meeting of the county executive that many farmers were not happy with the measurements they were getting on the digitised maps.

"I believe that the IFA should select four or five farms where there are problems for a test case, because there is a big difference from the Land Registry Maps for some farms and farmers are now questioning what is going on," Mr Fennessy said.

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"When we were paying rates on the land they were able to find a lot more land than we are getting for the area aid. The digitised maps seem to come up with a very different result from the Registry Maps -- it needs to be looked into," said Limerick IFA chairman Eddie Scanlan.

A spokesperson for the Department of Agriculture said that payment areas are based on Ordnance Survey maps and very high resolution satellite imagery.

"This data is supplied to us by Ordnance Survey, European Space Agency and the Commission in Brussels and has been quality controlled to meet the appropriate mapping standards as well as the requirements of the IACS regulations," the Department official said.

"The accuracy of the digitising obviously depends on the operator who is digitising the maps and an experienced digitiser can digitise with more accuracy and speed as compared to a newly appointed digitiser but we employ a rigorous quality control to ensure that the work of all our operators is of a satisfactory standard," he added.

Department officials insisted that the digitised area was constantly being checked for area accuracy against the published Ordnance Survey field data and the difference in area value was usually negligible.

"In the majority of cases the area on the farmer's legal documents are indeed greater than the LPIS (Land Parcel Identification System) area but this is because the legal documents include roads, lakes, woods and buildings, which are ineligible in the LPIS system," the Department official pointed out.

Irish Independent