Defra removes 150m limit from flood recovery fund

Defra has responded to criticism from the farming industry and removed a requirement for land to be within 150m of rivers to be eligible for flood recovery funding.

The government announced on Tuesday 9 April that flood-hit farmers would be eligible to claim grants of between £500 and £25,000 under the Farming Recovery Fund for uninsurable losses following flooding.

However, originally only fields that were within 150m of main rivers would be eligible to claim the grants.

See also: Britain’s most flooded farmer not eligible for recovery fund

The NFU initially welcomed the launch of the scheme, but later said it had been “fundamentally let down in the detail”.

NFU vice president Rachel Hallos said: “We are hearing from numerous members who have suffered catastrophic impacts who have been told they are not eligible for the fund because some of their affected areas are more than 150m from ‘main’ rivers.

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

Farmer ‘50% happy’

Flood-ravaged Lincolnshire arable farmer Henry Ward was among the farmers who had first been told he was ineligible to claim support – despite his arable farm at Short Ferry being under 2m of floodwater for the last six months.

“I think we are now eligible to claim funding, but as things stand it is a flat rate payment of £130/ha, which gets me to about £10,500 but is not the £25,000 I was hoping to receive,” said Mr Ward.

“I’m only about 50% happy. We are going in the right direction, but I think the scheme needs to be more nuanced and offer more support for farmers like myself who aren’t going to have a harvest this year.”

Mr Ward estimates he faces £100,000 in losses this year due to the severity of the flood devastation at Short Ferry Farm, near Lincoln.

Initially, the grants are being made available to help reinstate agricultural land which flooded between 2 and 12 January during Storm Henk.

Farmers whose land flooded near main rivers in Gloucestershire, Leicestershire, Lincolnshire, Nottinghamshire, Somerset, Warwickshire, West Northamptonshire, Wiltshire and Worcestershire, are currently eligible to apply for funding. For the full list of rivers, see Gov.UK.

Scheme ‘under review’

Defra is currently reviewing Berkshire, Herefordshire, Oxfordshire, Surrey, Staffordshire, Yorkshire, Norfolk and Derbyshire.

Farming minister Mark Spencer said: “We want to make sure the Farming Recovery Fund offers the support farmers need to recover from uninsurable damage.

“It’s why we’ve immediately listened and responded to feedback on the launch of the initial phase of this scheme, fully removing 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.

“We’ll continue to listen to farmers and look at how we can expand the scheme and improve support for those affected.”

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