SWINDON farmers affected by this winter’s severe flooding are being encouraged to apply for a Government grant of up to £35,000 to help repair the damage.

The relief money, from the £10m Farming Flood Recovery Fund, was made available in February with £5,000 initially being offered.

The Government has since assessed the detrimental affect that the floods have had on farmers’ livelihoods and decided to increase the amount on offer.

Ian Johnson, the National Farmers’ Union’s south west spokesman, said: “Anyone who thinks the fund could help them should apply.

“I’m pleased to see that the Government has bent over backwards to try and help farmers with their recoveries, as it could take them up to 18 months to properly get back on their feet.

“I think the floods have been a wake up call to many but it is good to see the Government has acknowledged the importance of protecting agricultural land.”

Robert Lawton, who runs North Farm, in Aldbourne, which has 250 cows and produces milk for Cadbury’s chocolate company, suffered minor flooding during the winter and isn’t intending to apply for a grant.

He said: “We had a small area of crops killed and because it wasn’t a massive impact on us I can’t see us asking for any money.

“I think it is great the money has been made available but there are people in Somerset who have to replace all their grass after water and sewage spread across their land, so I think the money should be going to them rather than us.”

Manor Farm, in Aldbourne, suffered some flooding but Anne and William Brown, who run it won’t be asking for funding.

Anne said: “We had a little bit of flooding but whatever we suffered is nothing in comparison to what those in Somerset suffered.”

Swindon councillor Keith Williams, the cabinet member for highways, strategic transport and leisure, which includes flood management, has welcomed the increased grant and said that farmers in this area shouldn’t feel guilty about applying, even if they weren’t as badly affected as others.

He said: “Farmers do all they can to prepare for possible floods and it is nice to see the Government offering them a welcome boost.

“We were by no means as badly affected as farmers in Somerset but that doesn’t mean our farmers shouldn’t apply if they think the money will be a benefit to them.”

Farmers who want to get money from the recovery fund can apply from April 28. Visit www.gov.uk.