Decision soon on Sperrins support?

Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs Minister Edwin Poots has said he hopes to make an announcement soon on possible support for farmers in the Sperrins area whose businesses were severely affected by flooding in 2017.

Saturday, 27th March 2021, 7:54 am
Left to right: Farm owner Drew Fleming, Declan McAleer MLA, President Ulster Farmers' Union Victor Chestnutt, DAERA Minister Edwin Poots MLA.
Left to right: Farm owner Drew Fleming, Declan McAleer MLA, President Ulster Farmers' Union Victor Chestnutt, DAERA Minister Edwin Poots MLA.

Earlier this week Mr Poots visited a farming business in the Owenkillew river valley at the invitation of the Ulster Farmers’ Union (UFU), to discuss the ongoing impacts of the August 2017 flooding in the area and subsequent land slippage.

Minister Poots said: “I welcome the opportunity to visit the area to meet with a local farmer impacted by the flooding in 2017 and to learn about the challenges faced by those directly affected. I have seen the impact of landslides and erosion caused by the heavy rain, and heard about the work required to restore land back to productivity. I am considering requests for financial assistance and plan to make an announcement in the near future.”

Following the flooding a number of measures have been taken by DAERA to assist those affected, including £500,000 funding for the Loughs Agency to carry out remedial fencing works in the worst affected areas and a range of farm advisory and practical support measures.

The Minister was accompanied on his visit by UFU president Victor Chestnutt and Stormont agriculture committee chairman Declan McAleer MLA.

Victor Chestnutt commented: “We are fast approaching four years since the devastating floods in the Glenelly and Owenkillew valley and surrounding areas. It’s an injustice that these farmers, whose land was flooded and endured the devastating impact of landslides and erosions caused by the heavy rainfall that takes place once in a 3,000 year occurrence, did not receive any support to help them restore their land for agricultural use. Simply because there was no government at the time.”

He added: “I appreciate Minister Poots and Declan McAleer MLA for taking the time to visit local farmer Drew Fleming and farmer representatives, to learn of the challenges he and other farmers affected in the area, have been dealing with since the flooding took place. The Minister has assured us that he is now considering requests for financial assistance and has plans to make an announcement on this matter in the future. I urge him to do this as soon as possible as the flooding victims have been left in limbo for far too long. I am delighted that progress is finally being made.”

Declan McAleer said he is hopeful that Sperrin farmers who suffered devastating losses in the floods and landslides of 2017 may at last get much needed financial assistance following the visit by Agriculture Minister Edwin Poots to the affected area.

He said: “I have been relentlessly raising the issue with the DEARA Minister and Department since this devastating natural disaster happened.

“Having spent the afternoon with the Agriculture Minister and UFU on a farm impacted by the severe flood of 2017, and after he saw and heard at first hand the plight of those affected I am hopeful that they may at last the financial assistance to compensate for their devastating losses.”

McAleer concluded: “I therefore welcome the pronouncement by the Minister today that he is considering requests for financial assistance and that he plans to make an announcement in the near future.

“I trust that the Minister will conclude his deliberations and make a positive announcement at the earliest opportunity.”