Sinn Féin MLA and chair of the Assembly’s Agriculture committee Declan McAleer has called on the DAERA Minister to provide compensation to the farmers in the Sperrins affected by severe landslides in August 2017.
The West Tyrone MLA said:
“The landslides, which took place in the Glenelly and Owenkillew valleys on the night of 22-23rdAugust 2017 caused devastation on an unprecedented scale.
“Farmers had their livelihoods wiped out overnight and whilst I acknowledge that the Department was helpful in terms of applying force majeure to protect the SFP and financing the Loughs Agency led riparian fencing scheme, the sheer loss has had a profound impact on these farmers who are still carrying the financial and emotional burden.
“This has been compounded in recent months by the COVID crisis which caused the closure of marts, a rise in input costs and a drop in farmgate prices. The losses inflicted by the 2017 landslide has left these farmers less well able to cope with the latest crisis than their counterparts.
“Along with other elected representatives and farming organisations we have been highlighting this issue for the past three years and it is very reassuring that the newly elected President of the UFU, Victor Chestnutt has identified support for these farmers as a key issue that needs to be addressed.
“I have raised the issue of compensation both formally and informally with Minister Poots and I understand from our engagements that any support will require his ministerial direction. In recent correspondence to the Minister I pointed out that his officials were on the ground immediately after the landslide and in the days and weeks following to assess the damage.
“As such, DAERA knows the sheer extent of the damage and what it will take to compensate those affected. At this stage, three years later, it is important that the Minister moves to support these farmers without any further unnecessary delay.”