UFU calls for review of A5 WTC Agricultural Impact Assessments
Friday, 16 August, 2013
The Ulster Farmers’ Union (UFU) has called on Road Service to undertake a review of the A5 WTC Agricultural Impact Assessments following reports from farmers that the original assessments contain inaccuracies and do not reflect the overall impact on farm businesses.
UFU Deputy President Barclay Bell said; “We have received reports from many farmers that the original Agriculture Impact Assessments carried out as part of the A5 WTC road project are inaccurate and certainly do not reflect how some of these farm businesses were going to be dissected, which has caused us serious concern. We are aware that the Road Service has already written to those farmers affected by the A5 WTC asking them to provide updated information for the Agricultural Impact Assessments but the UFU believes that a simple updating of these assessments is not sufficient and that a full scale review is required.”
Farmers have been asked to reply to Road Service by 30th August 2013 correcting any specific errors or detailing any changes to their farm businesses since the original Agriculture Impact Assessments were carried out.
Barclay Bell continued; “I cannot stress enough how important it is for farmers to reply to the Road Service letter and to provide the correct and up-to-date information. If farmers do not reply, it will be assumed that the information on record is correct and that no updating is required. Providing this specific, detailed information and highlighting the errors will ensure that the correct information is on file and will help to give further credence to our call for a review.”
The Ulster Farmers’ Union has been working hard on behalf of members affected by the A5 road project to raise a number of issues including: effect on Single Farm Payment, land reinstatement, compensation, vesting procedures, and compliance with the Road Service guidelines for land/property acquisition with the relevant Government departments and Ministers.
Barclay Bell concluded; “We have written to Agriculture Minister Michelle O’Neill looking for reassurance that this year’s Single Farm Payment (SFP) to those affected by the A5 WTC will not be delayed. The Minister has responded saying that the Department of Agriculture (DARD) will have to verify force majeure information with the Department for Regional Development (DRD) but that she did not anticipate that these validation checks would delay 2013 SFP for any of the farmers involved. This issue is of the utmost importance and consequently we expect the Minister and her Department to deliver a satisfactory outcome. The UFU has also met with the DRD Minister Danny Kennedy and we have already requested a meeting with the new Minister for Finance Simon Hamilton to discuss a number of issues including the A5 WTC."