Ulster Unionist Westminster candidate for Fermanagh and South Tyrone Tom Elliott has highlighted an astounding increase of 238% of AP1 Review of decisions, lodged with DAERA between 2015 and 2016. Figures obtained from DAERA also highlight an increase of over 200% of the number of AP2 Review of Decision stage 2.
Mr Elliott said: “There has been a considerable increase in the number of appeals lodged by farmers, and there are a number of questions which spring to mind. Why was there an increase, why was it so substantial, and how the department dealt with and are currently dealing with it?
“It appears as if something significant has happened to between 2015 and 2016 that explains the major increase in appeals and that is something the department will have to explain as well as how they dealt with and are currently dealing with such an increase.
“Figures also obtained from the DAERA highlight that the longest waiting time for a decision to be made on an AP1 appeal in 2016 was 708 days, up by 28% from 2015.
“If you think these figures are startling then just look at the length of time that farmers wait for a Stage 2 Appeal to be dealt with, the longest being 1,474 days, which is over four years.
“My constituency offices have been inundated with many farmers who have been going through the often frustrating appeals process, and we are well aware of the length of time that many farmers have had to wait for their appeal to be processed by the department.
“With appeals taking such a period of time to be processed, many farmers’ payments are being held up again adding to the frustrations.
“I do recognise that DAERA have attempted to resolve the system by introducing a fast track option of certain appeals, but again there are questions over whether DAERA has the resources to effectively utilise this system, especially with some of the appeals which are coming through my constituency offices.”