£3.5 million announced for Sperrins flood farmers

Minister Poots is understood to have announced a £3.5 million support package for farmers in the Sperrins affected by floods and landslides in 2017.

The announcement was made at today’s Ulster Farmers’ Union (UFU) AGM.

UFU president Victor Chesnutt acknowledged that almost four years after the devastating flooding of the north-west and effortless lobbying by the UFU, the DAERA minister will be providing support to help those affected.

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.

Around 230 farmers filled out ‘Force Majeure’ forms at clinics run in Plumbridge and Drumahoe by the department and UFU.

A scheme was up and running within five weeks in the Republic of Ireland. However, more than three years on, farmers on the Northern Ireland side of the border are still out tens of thousands for the cost of damage to their farms.

‘Livelihoods were wiped out overnight in the Sperrins’

Stormont Agriculture Committee chairman Declan McAleer, who was also speaking at this afternoon’s AGM, welcomed the announcement.

Image source: Declan McAleer
West Tyrone MLA Declan McAleer pictured with farmers affected by floods in the north-west in 2017

McAleer said: “The landslides, which took place in the Glenelly and Owenkillew valleys on the night of August 22-23, 2017, caused devastation on an unprecedented scale, with many farmers having their livelihoods wiped out overnight.

“The sheer loss has had a profound impact on these farmers who are still carrying the financial and emotional burden which has compounded in recently by the Covid crisis.

“According to Minister Poots, funding will be based on Force Majeure applications and will be a simplified application process. Legislation to introduce the scheme will in place by the summer.

“These farmers in the Sperrins have waited long enough and it is great news that they will finally get the deserved compensation for their losses,” McAleer concluded.