The Ulster Farmers’ Union has welcomed proposals to overhaul land vesting in Northern Ireland to bring it in line with the rest of the UK.
The UFU has lobbied for many years for this, arguing that the compulsory purchase system here is inefficient and unfair. Currently Northern Ireland only offers market value, at time of vesting, and also loss of conacre land is not taken into account. The UFU says this means legitimate farming losses are not fully accounted for.
Landowners in England and Wales are and have been offered an additional 7.5 per cent basic loss payment and an additional 2.5 per cent occupiers loss payment. This is on top of the market valuation.
“We have always felt Northern Ireland is unfairly treated in comparison. We believe enhanced compensation would help make the process more straightforward and may ultimately reduce costs,” said UFU deputy president Barclay Bell. “In a vesting situation landowners are not willing sellers and must be compensated on that basis,” he said.
While these proposals are for DRD schemes the UFU in its response emphasised that it should be applied across all departments.
“We support proposals offering equivalence with England and Wales. An improved mechanism for fairer compensation benefits all landowners, tenants and road developers, the process is more transparent and thus road schemes can progress in a more timely manner,” said Mr Bell.
“Given the schedule of planned road schemes, which would have a significant impact on the agricultural sector, the UFU is pleased that since 2008 our persistent efforts to address this issue are now being rewarded but it also important that these proposals are implemented quickly.”