The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) has removed the 150m rule from its Farming Recovery Fund, which supports farmers affected by flooding.

The 150m limit meant that farmers who were more than 150m from main rivers were not eligible for funding support.

Defra said: “Following feedback from farmers, the eligibility criteria for the scheme has been updated to fully remove the 150m limit.

“This means that farmers will be able to receive payments for all land parcels which are flooded contiguous to an eligible river.”

The National Farmers’ Union had said that the limit meant that the recovery fund “simply doesn’t work”.

NFU vice president Rachel Hallos said the limit meant that farmers that had suffered “catastrophic impacts” from flooding were told that they were not eligible for the fund because their affected areas were more than 150m from main rivers.

“These include members with 90% of their land saturated or underwater, and huge damage to buildings and equipment”, Hallos said.

Hallos said the union took the issue up with Defra “urgently”.

“I cannot believe this is what ministers intended when they launched the fund, which was a welcome and well-intentioned development which seems to have been fundamentally let down in the detail.

“While the impact of the weather goes far beyond Storm Henk, this could have been a good start but, as it stands, it simply doesn’t work.”

The Farming Recovery Fund supports farmers who suffered uninsurable damage to their land due to flooding this winter.

Eligible farmers are being contacted directly by the Rural Payments Agency (RPA) and will be able to access grants of between £500 and £25,000 to return their land to the condition it was in before “exceptional flooding” due to Storm Henk.

The fund forms part of a broader scheme called the Flood Recovery Framework, which is activated in exceptional circumstances to support councils and communities following severe flooding.

The fund will initially be open in those local authority areas where the Flood Recovery Framework has already been activated to help farms which have experienced the highest levels of flooding.

These areas area:

  • Gloucestershire;
  • Leicestershire;
  • Lincolnshire;
  • Nottinghamshire;
  • Somerset;
  • Warwickshire;
  • West Northamptonshire;
  • Wiltshire;
  • Worcestershire.