Red tape is preventing farmers from accessing desperately needed flood recovery grants.

According to figures uncovered by a Cumbrian MP, only a quarter of the total funds promised to farmers across the county and the north of England in the aftermath of last winter’s storms have been paid out.

Following December’s Storm Desmond, the Farming Recovery Fund was set up to provide grants of up to £20,000 for farmers to help them restore damaged agricultural land.

Over £9 million of funding was approved for the scheme, designed to support over 1,000 projects.

However, a Parliamentary question by Lib Dems leader and Cumbrian MP, Tim Farron, has led to the admission by the Defra Farming Minister, George Eustice, that only around a quarter of this total has currently been paid out.

Only 338 farmers have so far received their payments, coming to a total of just £2,306,386.

Applicants have until the end of December 2016 to carry out restoration work and claim for it under the scheme.

Mr Farron said: “Farms across Cumbria and the north of England were devastated by last winter’s floods, which ruined hedges, fences and walls, destroyed drainage systems, and left fields unworkable.”

He added farmers have had to shell out vast sums to make their land fit to use again, and it was shocking that the Government had not pulled its weight in providing support.

“Excessive bureaucracy is preventing farmers accessing the funds they need. The Government must urgently work with farmers to make sure they get the funds they are entitled to.”

Mr Eustice said applicants had until the end of December 2016 to carry out the restoration work and claim their grant, although a small number have requested extensions to that deadline.

He added that the Rural Payments Agency had recently written to all applicants who have not submitted claims with guidance on how to complete the claim form.

Meanwhile the Cumbrian action group formed to help farmers in the wake of one of the county’s deadliest storms has been recognised with a national Award.

The Cumbria Farm Flood Action Group (CFFAG) was given the prestigious Farming Hero of the Year award at a ceremony for the British Farming Awards in Droitwich Spa last week.

The group, which is made of a number of organisations including the National Farmers’ Union, Cumbria Agricultural Chaplaincy, the Westmorland Agricultural Society, the Farmers Network, and Cumbria Commoners, was formed in December last year following Storm Desmond which wreaked havoc across the county.

Their support included financial assistance, assessing the damage, lobbying for the Farming Recovery Fund and mobilising tonnes of forage to be delivered to the worst hit areas.

NFU north west regional director, David Hall said: “Storm Desmond hit the farming community hard with many losing stock, fencing and walls. Then there were those who faced the task of clearing thousands of tonnes of gravel from their land.”

Georgina Lamb, is the regional officer for the Royal Agricultural Benevolent Institution (RABI). She said: “Storm Desmond and subsequent flooding led to dark times for many farmers, some of whom are still feeling the effects.

“CFFAG tried to make life a little easier for those hit by directing them to help available and assisting them in accessing support. By pooling all our resources and knowledge, the group was a one stop shop for many.”

Adam Day, managing director for The Farmers Network said: “It’s been a tough road, but the group can be really proud of the results we all achieved by coming together, and it’s capped off by collecting this special award. Farm businesses need our ongoing support during these uncertain times, so I hope this award encourages others to work together to help our rural communities.”

Keswick farming family the Chaplin-Brice’s Low Bridge End Farm was at the centre of a video released to urge the Government to help farms still coping after the floods.

It was made by the NFU to highlight the scale of the problem of one of the worst hit farms in the county. Flood waters obliterated bridges, fences and dry stone walls, and submerged the 50 acre farm’s lowlands. All of the family farm’s fields were eroded, with some left buried under tonnes of gravel.

More than 20 chickens were lost in the flood, and just three of their 20 geese survived. The farm’s 60 breeding ewes, including a variety of Hebridean, Manx, Teeswater, Gotland and Lleyn sheep were moved to another farm, which made the lambing season even more difficult.