All impacted farms should be eligible for £3.5m flood scheme - McAleer
Sinn Féin MLA Declan McAleer has welcomed the announcement that the £3.5 million flood compensation scheme for farmers in the Sperrins will open for applications in August, but has cautioned that all impacted farm businesses afftected by this storm should be eligible for compensation.
Mr McAleer said “Storm Lorenzo devestated parts of the Sperrins and Inishowen on 22-23rd August 2017 and left a trail of destruction in its wake. The announcement that the compensation scheme will open in August is welcome news for the farmers who have been carrying these huge losses for the past four years. Applications will be online and payments will be at a rate of £4092 per hectare for severely disadvantaged land and £792 per ha for lowland, with a cap of £106,323.
“However, in welcoming the scheme, I have concerns which I have written to the Minister about on a number of occasions since he announced the scheme in April.
“The Minister states that payments will only be made to farmers who submitted a Force Majeure application in 2017. I know farmers who had their businesses damaged by the storm but who did not submit a Force Majeure application. There are multiple reasons why this may have been the case, such as being distracted with trying to deal with the damage to their businesses, not realising the vitality of submitting the form or simply missing the advertising campaign.
“The fact that copious assessments of the damage was already carried out by DAERA, Loughs Agency and other bodies, I do not believe that submission of a Force Majeure application should be the only criteria for being considered for this scheme.
“Additionally, in the Minister’s reply to me he stated that losses of livestock and equipment can be insured. However, I am aware of a number of farmers who had equipment and bales destroyed in this storm but their insurance did not cover the losses.
“While the scheme is very welcome and will help compensate the majority of impacted farmers with the losses they endured, I believe that the department should give careful consideration to ensuring that all impacted farm businesses are eligible for compensation”.
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