RPA plans a new way to inspect commons

The RPA have told us that they have been criticised for claiming areas of common land as eligible that EU auditors consider ineligible. To remedy this RPA have proposed  a 3 year programme of inspections to mitigate against further criticism and disallowance (i.e. paying back money to the EU).

RPA's  aim is to undertake 97% of the inspections work using geospatial earth observation (EO) techniques, also known as remote sensing. This should be better at detecting ineligible bracken/scrub than the current methods they use.

This is a big job.  There are 9807 parcels across 1460 distinct commons – total area of commons parcels 383,685 ha of which 84% are in disadvantaged area. The Ordnance Survey has indicated that 351,862 ha of land contain some scrub/heath.

RPA will be using 8 band multi-spectural satellite imagery (a higher band gives more accurate results) and two season images (summer and winter) to interpret land eligibility. They will apply a semi automated remote sensing classification technique to identify and classify scrub and bracken developed jointly between Natural England and RPA. and piloted by  Natural England. Then Geographical Information Analysts will undertake a computer aided photo interpretation assessment of the various information products (i.e. images, classification and ground control points) to determine the ineligible areas.

One can only hope that this will be better than the system we have already. It is full of inaccuracies and we have continuously pointed these out to RPA. I guess it takes an unfavorable EU audit report and financial penalties  to change things.