McAleer welcomes progress on Sperrins fencing scheme

Caoimhe Archibald, with Councillor Dermot Nicholl, Declan McAleer MLA and Cathal Hassan MLA at the DARD fundingadvice meeting held in the Drummond hotel this week. INLV4215-018KDR
Caoimhe Archibald, with Councillor Dermot Nicholl, Declan McAleer MLA and Cathal Hassan MLA at the DARD fundingadvice meeting held in the Drummond hotel this week. INLV4215-018KDR

West Tyrone MLA Declan McAleer has welcomed confirmation from Loughs Agency that progress is being made on the riparian fencing scheme in the Sperrins on land affected by the floods.

Mr McAleer said: “The flash flood of August 2017 caused huge devastation in many parts of the north west, including the Sperrins region where landslides inflicted major damage including the destruction of miles of fencing.

“Since the flood, I along with other representatives have continued to lobby DAERA and other agencies to support the communities affected. The ‘de-minimus’ funding scheme is the preferred option to support the farmers and we still call on the department to release this funding.

“In addition to engaging with DAERA, I have also been in ongoing contact with Loughs Agency who were active on the ground in the aftermath of the flood and are currently engaged in delivering a riparian fencing project in the area. This involved surveying affected lands in the Glenelly, Owenkillew and Faughan catchment areas.

“I recently received an update from Loughs Agency that they are drawing up a landowner’s agreement for each landowner to sign prior to any works being carried out and they will also cross check all previous surveys for accuracy.

“Due to the fact that this is a publicly funded project, all purchasing will be carried out by the Central Procurement Directorate (CPD) and I understand that they are almost ready to send this out to tender to their registered suppliers with a turnaround time to suppliers of approximately three months.

“Loughs Agency had to prioritise areas that were the worst affected in terms of fishery habitat damage and have the best potential for spawning and nursery salmonids. As such, the areas covered in this particular tranche of funding is the Glenelly River (upstream of Plumbridge) and the Owenkillew River from Glenhull to Trinamadan Bridge below Gortin and they hope to apply to DAERA for more funding for other flood hit areas, when they deliver this project.

“I appreciate that this scheme has taken some time to progress and some farms may not be included in this tranche but I strongly encourage farmers to engage with Loughs Agency who are rolling out the scheme and who have assured me that all issues raised will be noted and addressed, where possible.”