HC Deb 28 October 1987 vol 121 cc311-2W
Miss Widdicombe

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what compensation he will make available to farmers in Kent who suffered losses during the storm of 15 and 16 October; if he will make special compensation available to fruit farmers; if he has any plan to visit affected farms in Kent; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. MacGregor

I informed the House on 22 October, in reply to a question from my hon. Friend the Member for Wealden (Sir G. Johnson Smith) that, whilst I am very sympathetic to the losses to farmers as a result of storm damage, I see no reason to depart from the longstanding position, which is that farmers normally bear the cost of bad weather. The majority normally insure against such risks and it is not the practice of the Government to pay compensation in situations of this kind.

Nevertheless, some farmers have lost a very large number of hedges and trees and the environmental impact has been considerable. I am therefore having urgent consultations with the European Commission to see if increased rates of grant can be given under the agriculture improvement scheme for shelter belts, hedges arid traditional walls.

So far as fruit farmers are concerned, I am still assessing the losses in consultation with the NFU and others, arid will consider the position after I have done so.

I am very much aware of the situation in the affected area in Kent.

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