UK Government

Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs (National): Funding announced for Cumbrian farmers

Press Release   •   Dec 17, 2009 10:30 GMT

Cumbria farmers can now access £500,000 to help clear debris and gravel left behind by the recent devastating flooding, Environment Secretary Hilary Benn announced today.

The funding is being made available through Defra’s Rural Development Programme for England, to be delivered by Local Action Groups (LAGs) and the Northwest Regional Development Agency (NWDA) to help farmers bring their land back into use.

Farmers can apply to LAGs for grants of up to £6,800 to make their land usable again by moving gravel and other debris such as household items and vehicles.  Defra is also urgently exploring the scope for further support for those farmers whose costs may exceed this figure.

LAGs will also provide £1.2m to the local community to help flooded businesses and farmers rebuild trade, local tourism and other local initiatives over the next year.

Hilary Benn said:

"The effects of the extreme weather in Cumbria have caused a lot of distress and made life difficult for many people, including farmers.

* I have visited farmers to see the problem for myself, and their Member of Parliament, Tony Cunningham, has also briefed me on the need for help.

* Many farmers have been severely affected, with large quantities of stones and other debris washed onto their fields.

* In the short term, the funding will be a big help to farmers to make their land usable again and to allow livestock back to graze.

"We will continue to work with local farmers to find the best way to dispose of, or reuse, the gravel and debris left behind."

Flood Recovery Minister Rosie Winterton said:

"The Government remains committed to doing all we can to support Cumbria at this difficult time and for the farming industry.

"This support from the NWDA, alongside £1million from Communities and Local Government and support from other Whitehall Departments will help the people and businesses in Cumbria who need it most."

David Hunter, Head of Rural Development at the NWDA, said:

"Many farmers have been directly affected by flooding and have told us their immediate need is to remove debris from their land. This is costly and farmers need to get their land working again. I am pleased that following discussions we can make these funds available from today."

The funding delivers further assistance to farmers after Mr Benn suspended a cross compliance standard last month to enable farmers in Cumbria to use vehicles on waterlogged soil to remove debris and repair damage.

This funding is in addition to the £2 million already pledged to communities in Cumbria that have been affected by flooding. This includes £1 million from central Government and £1 million from the Northwest Regional Development Agency (NWDA).

Notes to editors

1.   Application forms and details about how to apply will be available on the NWDA or by phoning:

* Solway, Border and Eden - 01697 349212

* Fells and Dales - 01768 869533

2.  The Rural Development Programme for England (RDPE) implements in England Pillar 2 of the Common Agricultural Policy. It has a total budget of £3.9 billion over the period 2007-2013 and is funded from European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development (EAFRD) and domestic co-financing.  The Programme aims to safeguard and enhance the rural environment, improve competitiveness in the agriculture and forestry sector, foster competitive and sustainable rural businesses and thriving rural communities.  The Programme provides member states with the ability to implement a range of measures under which funding can be provided.

3.  Local Action Groups are constituted under the Leader approach.  This is a delivery mechanism under the Rural Development Programme for England (RDPE) 2007-2013. Also known as Axis 4, the Leader approach is a method of harnessing local knowledge to enable a "bottom up", community led approach to delivery of RDPE funding in rural areas. Local Action Groups can deliver a range of Programme objectives, and will help achieve integration.

4.  Funding under this arrangement has to be contained within the EU state aids agricultural de minim is limit.  That limit is 7,500 euros [approximately £6,800] per farm business over a three year rolling period.  Any expenditure over this limit would require a separate application to the European Commission, which Defra will consider if the need arises.

5. The funding announced today is intended to support farmers who incur unforeseen costs as a result of the recent floods for moving gravel and other debris that is preventing them from using their land for productive agriculture.  The final removal of the debris from their land may require additional consents from the Environment Agency and incur additional costs, support for which Defra will consider should the need arise.


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