UFU meets DRD Minister to discuss A5 road and snow clearance damage to hedges and fences

Friday, 26 April, 2013

The Ulster Farmers’ Union has met with Regional Development Minister Danny Kennedy to discuss the latest developments around the A5 road scheme. The UFU also raised the issue of damage to hedges and fences as a result of clearing snow from roads during the severe weather in March.

After the meeting, Ulster Farmers’ Union Deputy President Barclay Bell said; “Overall it was a very useful meeting and I believe the DRD Minister understands the challenging and uncertain situation many farmers and landowners find themselves in. We have asked the Minister to ensure that those affected are treated fairly and that the next stages of this process are carried out swiftly as it has already been a long and drawn out process. On the back of this meeting with the Minister, the UFU has organised an open meeting on 7 May for all members affected by the A5 scheme to discuss the latest developments and any concerns they may have. I have also invited representatives from Road Service to take part to help clarify the situation.”

“Ultimately these farmers and landowners still find themselves in a very uncertain situation. The ownership of vested land has now been transferred back to the original owners but in some cases very significant land preparations for the A5 road had already begun leaving many farmers and landowners with land that is no longer fit for immediate agricultural use. In these cases, we understand that the land can either be reinstated by DRD’s contractors or by the landowners themselves for which compensation will be provided. Additional compensation is also to be provided in all cases for the loss of the use of the affected land. The more immediate issue of how this land is to be treated for Single Farm Payment purposes also remains with the 15 May application deadline fast approaching”.

“However the overarching concern remains on the future availability of the land as the DRD Minister has confirmed that, as had been requested by the Judge who quashed this road scheme, he is carrying out a more detailed assessment under the Habitats Directive on the proposed A5 road scheme given that the Northern Ireland Executive is still intent on pushing ahead with this major road development. If this is the case, we are strongly urging that the issue of compensation for vested land is urgently revisited. This is an issue we have raised many times before and will continue to do so until the compensation mechanism for land vesting is the same as that in Great Britain where recognition is given to the fact that affected landowners are not willing sellers. The UFU will raise this issue again with the Department of Finance and Personnel”.

“As a final point at the meeting with the DRD Minister we raised the issue of damage to hedges and fences as a result of snow clearance from roads following the severe weather last month. We have had numerous reports of such damage and the DRD Minister advised us that a compensation system already existed under which affected farmers and landowners could contact the Road Service to file a claim.”