Rishi Sunak urges flood-affected farmers to apply to £2m recovery fund

Rishi Sunak has welcomed the opening of a £2m fund he helped secure for Yorkshire Dales farmers affected by July’s flash flooding.

Applications are now open for the the Farming Recovery Fund, set up after Mr Sunak urged Farming Ministers to establish a compensation scheme similar to the one which operated after the Cumbrian floods of 2015.

Farmers in Swaledale, Arkengarthdale, and parts of lower Wensleydale who have suffered uninsurable damage to their land and property can now apply for grants between £500 and £25,000 to cover a number of repair costs.

This comes after the Government confirmed up to £5.25m to support wider recovery work in the area, including the repair of roads and bridges and activating the Bellwin scheme, which can be utilised when an emergency involving the destruction of or danger to life or property occurs, to reimburse local authorities for emergency work in flood-affected areas.

Grants under the Farming Recovery Fund are available for a range of farm restoration work, including rebuilding dry stone walls, re-cultivating productive land and replacing damaged field gates. A guidance handbook to making an application has been published today.

The Richmond MP said: “The rain at the end of July wreaked havoc on Dales farmland. The Government is taking action to help farmers get back on their feet in light of the extensive damage suffered.

“Miles of dry stone wall were damaged and in some cases entirely swept away. These walls are not just important to farmers, they are also an intrinsic part of the Dales landscape which attracts so many visitors.”

“I would encourage all those affected to check what they are eligible to apply for and to submit an application promptly to ensure they can access the money available to contribute to their restoration work.”

To apply for this funding, farmers must submit an application to the Rural Payments Agency (RPA) which explains how their business has been impacted and provides the relevant evidence to show any damage caused by the flooding. For applications covering damage where the applicant has already paid for repairs, farmers should provide copies of any receipts and quotes to help the RPA process them as quickly as possible.

Farmers will have until March 31, 2020, to submit an application for this funding, which is also open to a number of farmers around the town of Wainfleet in Lincolnshire which was hit by flooding in June.

CLA North Director Dorothy Fairburn said: “We are delighted that this funding can now be accessed.

“We collaborated with the RPA to make sure the application process is as simple as possible, and we encourage those affected to apply for funding under this agreement as it will enable farmers and landowners to re-construct the landscape, allowing communities and the visitor economy to re-boot.

“We have been working closely with farming support organisations and the local MP Rishi Sunak to ensure a swift and robust response to this very difficult situation.”

The application form and guidance handbook can be found at https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/farming-recovery-fund-2019-guidance-and-application-form