Payments totalling £2.7 million to support farm businesses affected by the flooding and landslides in the North West in 2017 have begun to issue, Agriculture Minister Edwin Poots has announced.

The floods and landslides, which took place on August 22, 2017, during Storm Lorenzo, were described by Met Éireann as a “once in a 100-year event”.

It saw livestock washed away, farmland buried under feet of silt and debris, and fences destroyed across the Glenelley and Owenkillew valleys.

A scheme was up and running within five weeks in the Republic of Ireland. However, as there was no Executive operational in Northern Ireland at the time, no financial support was offered to farmers other than the provision of £500,000 for riparian fencing remedial works by the Loughs Agency.

Minister Poots gave a previous commitment to consider a compensation package and announced in July that he had allocated £2.7 million in support for those worst affected by the flooding. The decision to award the money had to be made via a ministerial directive - a mechanism to overrule department officials.

Minister Poots said: “Earlier this year I visited farmers in the North West whose farms were impacted by the flooding and landslides as a result of Storm Lorenzo.

"I heard about the challenges they faced at the time and the work required since then to restore land back to productivity.

There is no doubt that it was a severely stressful time for those farmers, both financially and emotionally.

“As a result, I was very keen to provide some financial support to compensate for their loss of income and restoration costs.

"I subsequently announced, in July, that I had allocated funding to support farmers in the area and I’m pleased that 200 farmers in the North West will begin to receive payments from my department this week.”