£2.7m compensation scheme opens for flood-hit NI farmers

Farming businesses were devastated by the severe flooding in County Tyrone four years ago
Farming businesses were devastated by the severe flooding in County Tyrone four years ago

The Northern Irish government has opened a £2.7 million support scheme for farmers impacted by extreme flooding and landslides in 2017.

Farmers in the Glenelly area of County Tyrone will receive support of over £100,000 per business for losses incurred and to help restore land for agriculture use.

The extreme flooding caused devastating landslides in the Glenelly Valley during the summer of 2017.

For years, those impacted had highlighted the extent of their financial losses and the challenges faced in restoring their land back to productivity.

Farming businesses affected had also raised the negative impact this unique severe weather event had on them both emotionally and mentally.

The NI Department of Agriculture (DAERA) Farming Minister Edwin Poots opened the £2.7m support scheme for farmers this week.

It is believed more than 200 farms could be eligible for the one-off financial payment.

Farmers who applied for a Force Majeure when their businesses were impacted by flooding on 22 and 23 August 2017 can now apply.

The fund is a time limited scheme which will close on 12 August 2021, Mr Poots explained.

It is capped at £106,323 per farm business and is available for farmers who applied for a Force Majeure in respect of the flooding incident.

“The extreme flooding event meant that the farming and wider rural communities in the North West experienced significant hardship," Mr Poots said.

"Farm businesses lost income due to the impact on their land and the cost of removing debris and silt, as well as reseeding to restore it back to productive use.

"I am delighted to say that this North West 2017 Flooding Income Support Scheme, worth almost £2.7 million, is now open to applications.

“I would urge all eligible businesses to make sure their application is submitted as soon as possible,” Minister Poots added.

Eligible farm businesses will receive a letter inviting them to apply for the support package, with instructions on how to access the application form and receive help to complete it.

They must complete the application form available on DAERA Online Services from 28 July 2021.

The Ulster Farmers' Union said it was 'pleased' that farmers would 'finally get the financial support they need.'

The union had lobbied continuously to get support secured for those who completed majeure forms.

President Victor Chestnutt said: “We witnessed first-hand the ongoing devastation to their farm businesses because of the severe weather event almost four years ago.

"While the emotional distress of the past number of years cannot be undone, we hope that the funding provides relief after experiencing such financial loss for so long and that the farming families affected can now move forward.

"We now ask that the funding gets rolled out as soon as possible so they can benefit.”