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THE Ministry of Defence (MoD) is paying thousands of pounds a year in compensation to farmers in Cyprus for knowingly killing farm animals during military exercises, an investigation reported today.
Livestock, including unborn and baby goats, are routinely killed by British troops and aircraft based in Cyprus, investigative website Declassified discovered.
Fatalities are clustered around the major RAF base at Akrotiri, in the island’s south.
Britain’s military activity on the Mediterranean island has resulted in 1,764 animal-loss claims in the last five years due to live fire and low flying, and the MoD has awarded more than £8 million to claimants since 1995, mostly for animal and crop losses.
In 2018-19, the MoD paid out nearly £750,000 in compensation, the majority going towards settling 334 animal-loss claims from farmers.
The ministry’s costliest single payout in that period was £5,031, which also covered the cost of “abortions and associated vet fees” for a farmer whose pregnant goats were killed by low-flying RAF aircraft.
More than half of the deaths appear to be close to the Paramali river, a wildlife protection zone containing some of what the MoD describes as “Europe’s most valuable and threatened species” such as endangered falcons, harriers and kestrels. It is not known if British military activity had resulted in deaths of wild animals.
Internal documents show that the MoD knowingly caused deaths, with planes permitted to fly as low as 100 feet above the ground, according to Declassified.
An MoD spokesman said: “All military training and activity in the SBAs [sovereign base areas] takes place under strict conditions with precautions taken to minimise risks.
“Where livestock is unfortunately affected, arrangements exist to fully compensate farmers.”
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