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McAleer requests urgent meeting with DAERA on flooding

23 August, 2017 - by Declan McAleer

West Tyrone MLA Declan McAleer has requested an urgent meeting with the Permanent Secretary of the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs to discuss the introduction of an emergency financial hardship relief scheme to alleviate the pressure on beleaguered farming communities following yesterday’s freak weather conditions.

These storms resulted in 63% of August’s average total rainfall falling in just 8-9 hours.

Declan McAleer said:

 “This deluge resulted in severe flooding as rivers burst their banks and roads were swept away by landslides.

“This has had a disproportionate impact in rural communities with livestock and fencing being swept away.

“I spoke to a farmer this morning who lost 76 sheep alone in last night’s floods and I will be impressing on the Department that this is not an isolated case.

“Another farmer I spoke to who is in his 70s said that this was the worst rain he'd ever experienced in all his years of farming.

“Furthermore once you factor in damage to farm machinery and sheds, stores and feed the result is financially catastrophic for many farmers.

“The Department of Communities have a similar scheme targeted at domestic properties but alas this does not cover the unique problems faced by farmers.

“When my colleague Michelle O'Neill was Minister for Agriculture she was able to introduce schemes that offered immediate financial assistance to farmers when similar cases of extreme weather wrought havoc across rural communities.

“These 'force majeure' measures were warmly received and appreciated at the time and I see no reason why they cannot be re-introduced at this time.

“I will be impressing the need for the urgency of such a scheme in my meeting with DAERA and I will be exploring any other avenues that may offer relief to those worst effected.”

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