This photo doesn't prove land was flooded, says Defra

Farmer waits months for compensation

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Flooded farmland in Somerset

A Somerset farmer has revealed that his claim for compensation after last winter's floods was turned down - because photos of his land under eight feet of water were deemed "insufficient evidence".

James Winslade lost 810 acres of land to the flood waters at his Bridgwater farm, forcing him to move out and relocate 550 cattle.

In April, he applied for government funding to reseed his fields, at a cost of £11,000. To support his claim, he submitted a set of aerial photographs showing the submerged fields, some of which were 12 feet under water.

However, Mr Winslade was stunned when he received a response - saying that the evidence for flooding was insufficient.

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It was only six months later, after a visit by a Department for the Environment and Rural Affairs (Defra) inspector, that the money was finally released.
Farmer James Winslade

"I put in all the photographs back in April to show the damage, but they said the photographs weren't good enough and didn't prove I was flooded," he told the Western Morning News.

"I couldn't believe it. They were aerial photographs of my parents' farmhouse and my farmhouse and of the land. Of 840 acres 810 was flooded."

Mr Winslade was forced to buy the grass seed in May and June, and was hoping to be refunded in instalments. However, the need to wait for an inspection meant he didn't receive the money until last week.

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Many still waiting for payout

Farming minister George Eustice said the reason for the delay was European bureaucracy: "This is public money, it is coming out of a European fund and there are lots of rules about the way you monitor and apply European funds," he explained.

"We went the extra mile, sent a Defra official out there to meet him and process the claim, and he's been paid now."

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Many other farmers are still finding themselves waiting for a cheque. The Farming Recovery Fund, which made £10 million of government money available to flooded farms, closed in late June after receiving around £5.5 million worth of claims.

Of these, Defra has so far approved £4,561,307 - but has paid out only £193,180, according to an investigation by Famers Weekly.

Defra is urging farmers to carry on and complete the necessary work, saying it can only pay compensation once it's received receipts.

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