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Allister fights Grant Aid withdrawal

22 March 2006

Jim Allister MEP took the opportunity of an adjournment debate in the European Parliament to raise the current crisis in agriculture caused by the failure, so far, to increase the 45Million allocated for providing additional slurry storage capacity.

In the course of his remarks the DUP MEP said:-

"Pursuant to the implementation of the Nitrates Directive the agriculture sector in my constituency, as elsewhere, is being subjected to extensive capital expenditure for the purpose of radically increasing slurry storage capacity. 

To assist a UK Government scheme of grant aid was announced, with applications possible till 31 March 2006.  Then, unilaterally, the local Department of Agriculture announced earlier this month that the scheme was closing because the amount designated, a mere 45 M GBP, was already over-subscribed. Farmers who in good faith were working to the stipulated deadline are clearly disadvantaged.  The justification for the aid, namely the necessity to undertake excessively expensive works, still exists, but now assistance is withdrawn.  This is as unfair, as the 45 Million was patently inadequate.  I use this forum today to call on the UK Government to release sufficient funds to enable this essential work to be done, else implementation of the Nitrates Directive will be impossible."

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