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Farron pledges funds to help hill farmers deal with Chernobyl clear up

March 8, 2010 12:00 AM

Farmers still paying the price of the Chernobyl disaster 24 years after the radiation rained down on the Lake District fells will be given more money to help pay for costs under Lib Dem proposals announced today by South Lakeland MP Tim Farron.

Restrictions remain in place which stop farmers whose land is still affected by the radiation from freely selling their animals or products. Each animal has to be individually checked and cleared by the government before it can be sold. The Food Standards Agency has the authority to take the sheep away to do tests. In these cases the farmers are given compensation of £1.30 per animal - the same amount they were given in 1986.

Mr Farron has expressed his concern that the Government are unfairly penalising hill farmers by failing to increase the rate of compensation. Under Liberal Democrat proposals, the level of compensation given to farmers will be uprated according to inflation so that they will now receive £2.90 per sheep.

Commenting Mr Farron said:

"When dealing with the long-term effects of a disaster like Chernobyl, it's vital that the proper safety precautions are taken.

"But given that the crisis happened over 24 years ago, I'm amazed that the Food Standards Agency has yet to review the current system and look again at the impact this is having on Britain's uplands

"Hill farmers in South Lakeland earn on average less than £6,000 a year. They don't need another needlessly bureaucratic obstacle that will leave many of them further out of pocket.

"If the FSA maintain that these tests are needed, the Liberal Democrats will immediately increase the level of compensation to ensure there isn't a continued exodus from the hill farming industry."