NFU Cymru has demanded an immediate review of payments made to farmers for scanning sheep on the 350 Welsh farms still affected by radiation from the Chernobyl disaster of 1986.

Scanning and payment had remained at £1.30 a head since the disaster, leaving farmers in the area under restriction feeling like the “forgotten few”, said Huw Alun Evans, the union’s Merionnydd county branch chairman.

NFU Cymru has put forward a case to the Welsh Assembly and the Food Standards Agency in a bid to get the payment increased.

New equipment

It said the figure should not only be linked to inflation, but should take into account that the time taken to gather and hold sheep for scanning had risen after the introduction of new equipment.

“The new machines require three readings as opposed to two previously, so the time taken to scan 100 sheep has increased from 60 to 90 minutes,” Mr Evans said.

The FSA in Wales said it would raise the issue with the assembly and instigate a UK-wide discussion.

Restrictions

Restrictions put in place after the disaster have been lifted on all but a handful of farms in England, while about 176,000 sheep are affected in north Wales.

Farms are released from restriction when scanning shows that the caesium-137 levels in the flock is below 645 Bequerels/kg liveweight.

Some scientists predict that the last farm is unlikely to be given the all-clear until at least 2015.