Frew demands answers on “postcode lottery”

DUP MLA for North Antrim and Chairman of the ARD Committee, Paul Frew, has stated that he has been inundated with concerned farmers from all over Northern Ireland about the carcass collection service and the fact their postcode was not on the list for people eligible for the scheme even though they too where affected badly by the snow.

Mr Frew explained: “Even in my own Constituency of North Antrim in the hill country of Glenwhirry, where incidentally DARD have a hill farm, it has been excluded from the list of post codes. Anyone who was involved in the snow crisis will know that Glenwhirry was one of the most affected areas and one of the last areas that road service where able to clear the roads. On receiving the calls from concerned farmers I quickly engaged with the department and have been told that the reason some post codes where omitted was because they cover to vast an area and into areas that where not affected by snow.

“People from BT 42 ,BT 39 and BT 14 Co Antrim, BT 24 Co Down, BT 79 the west of Northern Ireland and people from Co Londonderry have all contacted me concerned that they were being excluded.

“I have been told by the department that people in any areas that do not have their postcodes listed but have been affected by the snow crisis resulting in deaths of livestock should ring the department and officials will come out to inspect the area and if they see enough evidence then they will be included in the scheme.

“This of course leaves questions as to the level of proof that is needed before farmers will qualify, if the snow has melted how do they assess it then? Many of these farmers didn’t phone in asking for help during the crisis because they didn’t hold out much hope of getting any help and were too busy trying to get to their flocks to sit at home on or by the phone.

“I have also been told that the farmers that have already paid to remove the dead animals will also be included in the scheme, if they prove that they qualify but again how do they do that and how long should they have to wait to get remunerated? How long will it take the department to process their outstanding claims?

“These are questions among others relating to the departments response and actions during the snow crisis that will be asked over the coming days and weeks I’m sure.”