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MoD pay-out for farmer after low-flying aircraft spook cattle
A FARMER whose cattle were injured after being spooked by low-flying military aircraft has been awarded more than £2,200 in compensation.
The claim is among 824 settled by the Ministry of Defence in the past seven years, totalling over £9million.
A settlement of £2,265 went to the anonymous Wellington farmer for “injury to cattle and damage to fencing” after the incident on May 24 last year.
Huge double-bladed Chinook helicopters were blamed for three of the biggest claims paid out in the last year, including a Sussex poultry farmer who netted £23,300 after terrified chickens were trampled to death, while others were too traumatised to carry on laying eggs.
Two years ago, an Oxfordshire chicken farmer received over £44,000 after complaining about a series of low-flying incidents.
Regional branches of the National Farmers' Union have helped hundreds of members process claims against the MoD, and in 2011 it published an article on the issue in its newsletter.
Low flying is an essential skill for military air crews, and the MoD has the right to carry out training exercises between 100ft and 500ft above ground level nationwide.
Despite the substantial sums claimed by some farmers, Ian Johnson, South-West NFU spokesman, said the long-term cost of losing livestock would almost always outweigh the compensation.
“The farmer would much rather not have their livestock and business put through the trauma in the first place,” he said.
“The cows in this instance must have been pretty badly spooked to want to go through barbed wire fencing, which no doubt would have resulted in some of them suffering serious injuries and possibly having to be put down.
“Whatever the circumstances, I suspect the farmer was still left out of pocket regardless of what they were awarded, so it’s not the kind of thing they wish to enter into.
“At the end of the day it’s hard enough to make a living as a farmer without adding to their problems, so it’s quite appropriate that when incidents such as these occur the farmer concerned is reasonably compensated.”
An MoD spokesman said: “Incidents of low-flying aircraft causing disturbance to farms or businesses are rare, and we take any complaints seriously.
“The MoD will pay reasonable ex-gratia compensation where a link can be established between MoD activity and subsequent loss or injury sustained by a claimant.”