Agriculture Minister Michelle O’Neill has announced an emergency financial aid package to help non-domestic organisations impacted by the recent flooding.
Speaking after the Executive meeting after her proposals were agreed, the minister said: “I welcome the Executive’s agreement for the Emergency Financial Assistance Scheme for non domestic properties, including small businesses, community groups and farms affected by recent flooding.”
The scheme, developed following a commitment made by Minister O’Neill when the Executive met on January 21, is a one-off programme which will provide £1,000 to many organisations which were significantly impacted by recent exceptional flooding. It will assist those responsible for non-domestic properties - including small businesses, farms, recreational and community buildings and places of worship - who have suffered severe inconvenience as a result of the recent flooding.
The Minister added: “This is the latest in a package of measures which demonstrates the Executive’s commitment to supporting those affected or threatened by flooding.”
The Minister went on to say: “I have long held the view that flood prevention must be the priority and that is why, in January, I launched the Homeowner Flood Protection Grant Scheme which is a £1million scheme to help people who wish to protect their homes from flooding. The scheme will provide 90% funding to owners of residential properties at risk of flooding to install physical barriers and equipment to help reduce the impact of flooding on their homes. I also extended this scheme more widely to ensure small businesses and farmers get help to protect their properties from the impacts of flooding. Work on the business case has started and I expect this scheme to be available later this year.”
In January, the Executive secured £1.3million of additional resource and decided to use this to fund preventative measures and prepare for future flood incidents. This demonstrates a commitment to ensuring that homes and other properties are protected from the worst effects of flooding and that our infrastructure, where possible, should remain useable to minimise the impacts on communities. Rivers Agency is using its allocation to inspect watercourses in areas affected by recent flooding and to carry out essential maintenance work identified in order to strengthen protection for the future.
The Minister concluded: “I hope that the Emergency Financial Assistance Scheme for non-domestic properties will help repair damage and restore normality to those impacted.
“While flooding is a natural occurrence and it is impossible to provide 100% protection, today’s announcement recognises the hardship some people faced this winter. It is a welcome addition to a package of measures which helps better protect homes, community groups and businesses from future flooding events. I encourage those who feel they may be at risk of flooding, to view the Flood Maps (NI) on the DARD website to understand the risks faced by their properties.”