T3. Mr McAleer asked the Minister of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs, who will be aware that he has been lobbying him in recent years on the issue of the needs of farmers who have been impacted gravely by the landslides in the Glenelly area, whether he has given further consideration to supporting those farmers. (AQT 693/17-22)
I have asked officials to look at that. There are two sets of farmers in Glenelly: those with upland farms; and those who are further downstream. The Department has indicated that it has already provided a lot of support. Through the Loughs Agency and the environmental farming scheme, it has provided fencing. We need to look at that area to ensure that, if we were to provide support, we would not be double granting. Other areas that we will look at include the desilting of land, the reseeding of land and the other damage done to properties. I have tasked officials to look at that, and they will bring back a report to me, hopefully in the not-too-distant future.
I very much welcome the fact that the Minister is still considering this and that he has been consulting his officials.
On a not totally unrelated topic, the Minister is due to bring out a draft ammonia strategy soon. Areas such as Glenelly and other hill areas are not particularly well suited to some of the low-emitting slurry-spreading equipment. If the Minister could factor that in to the equation when the new strategy is coming out, I would be grateful.
Earlier, when I was reporting on how we will implement the new single farm payment system, that point was raised by another Member, and we certainly need to keep it in mind. While we want it to happen and ensure that it is utilised as much as possible, we recognise that, on certain land, the weightier the machinery, the more difficult, and sometimes more dangerous, it is. We need to take that into account, so I thank the Member for that point.