Grant aid needed for land damaged by floods: Irwin

DUP MLAs William Irwin and Sydney Ander with farmer Matthew Harrison
DUP MLAs William Irwin and Sydney Ander with farmer Matthew Harrison

Newry & DUP Assemblyman William Irwin MLA has called for grant aid to be opened through the Farm Business Improvement Scheme for farmers whose land has been damaged due to the recent flooding.

Mr Irwin and his Upper Bann colleague Sydney Anderson MLA met with Matthew Harrison outside Portadown to view farmland which was heavily damaged by the flood water.

Whilst in normal winter conditions flooded land sustains minor damage as the flood water quickly recedes and the soil and grass recovers, in this recent flooding spell the land has been submerged in water in some areas for over three months owing to one of the wettest winters on record.

Mr Irwin, who chairs the Stormont Agriculture Committee, and Mr Anderson, a member of the committee, said they were shocked by the condition of the land following the receding of the flood water.

Mr Irwin said: “I certainly feel there should be some assistance offered by the Department of Agriculture to help farmers bring their land back into productivity and I believe the Farm Business Improvement Scheme could possibly be the most straight forward vehicle for this assistance to be channelled to the farmers affected.

“My colleague Sydney Anderson and I were concerned to see just how badly damaged Mr Harrison’s land is following the flooding and it is clear to see that the productivity of the land in this condition is non-existent.”

Mr Anderson MLA concluded: “We have jointly raised our concerns with the minister on this issue and I firmly believe that the FBIS should be equipped to deal with damaged land and I know that assistance if it were offered through this scheme would be very well received.”