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Friday 24 November 2017

More recognition for farming losses in flood protection scheme

Ferrying neighbours through the floods at Mukanagh, Athlone in 2015. Picture: Fergal Phillips
Ferrying neighbours through the floods at Mukanagh, Athlone in 2015. Picture: Fergal Phillips
Ciaran Moran

Ciaran Moran

Farm losses will now be included in the Minor Flood Mitigation Works and Coastal Protection funding scheme, according to the IFA.

It says farmers and farmland had been discriminated against in the cost-benefit analysis as the calculation of benefits to determine whether funding was made available for flood defence works, or measures to alleviate flooding, did not account for the agricultural losses resulting from flooding.

The main changes of relevance are that the upper financial threshold has been increased from €500,000 to €750,000 per project, and for the first time farm yards/buildings will be included as commercial premises in all categories.

IFA Flood Project Chairman Padraic Joyce has welcomed changes and said it is important that the cost-benefit analysis recognises agricultural losses as projects were being turned down on the basis that they did not meet the old criteria.

IFA will be meeting the OPW over the coming days for further clarification on the issues involved and to ensure that projects previously turned down will now get the go-ahead.

Meanwhile, former Minister for State Sean Canney said prior to his replacement by incoming Minister Kevin ‘Boxer’ Moran that the Homeowners Voluntary Relocation Scheme will not be available to farm business.

Last April, the Government agreed the administrative arrangements for a once-off Homeowners Voluntary Relocation Scheme for those primary residential properties that flooded during Winter 2015/2016.

This is a national scheme of humanitarian assistance, targeting aid at those worst affected properties, for which there are no alternative feasible measures.

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My officials have been in contact with Local Authorities in relation to the initial identification of potentially eligible properties, and homeowners may also register their interest in the scheme with the OPW before 28 July 2017.

Last week Minister Canny said the Scheme, as agreed by Government, is for principal residences only and does not include the relocation of any businesses or farm enterprises.

He said the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine has indicated that the administrative arrangements for the Voluntary Homeowners Relocation Scheme will help it, along with its own records of aid provided to farmers in response to these floods, identify those farmyard buildings worst affected by the flooding during Winter 2015/2016.

“That department will contact and work with these individual farms to determine if there are any alternative remedial works to protect those farmyard buildings at risk.

“This approach will inform the feasibility of any future once-off targeted scheme for Voluntary Farm Building Relocation,” he said.


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