TWO farmers engaged in a long-running row with Network Rail after one of their cows was killed by a train have finally received a payout.
The animal was hit by the train near Plockton last summer after it had strayed on to the railway line from common grazing land at Strathie, due to poorly maintained fencing alongside the track.
After months of correspondence with Network Rail refusing liability, MSP Kate Forbes took up the cudgels on behalf of farmers Duncan and John MacLennan, and they have now received full compensation for the cow – which had been independently valued at £2450.
The MSP for Skye, Lochaber and Badenoch also called on the rail organisation to expedite repairs to the fencing to avoid similar incidents in future.
Ms Forbes said: “I cannot describe how delighted I was when, after months of discussion, debate and correspondence, I finally got confirmation from Network Rail that it would compensate the MacLennans for the loss of the cow.
“I refused to give up because the cow had been valued at almost £2500 and any farmer knows the financial impact of losing livestock.
“It was doubly frustrating because it was due to poor maintenance of fencing along the railway line that had allowed the cow to be on the tracks.
“Common grazings are natural in crofting communities, so animals can wander far and wide.
“It’s therefore vital that Network Rail maintains fencing right along the tracks.
“Too many farmers lose livestock through no fault of their own and that hits their finances hard at a time when most are already struggling to make ends meet and make a profit.”
Duncan MacLennan said: “I am grateful to Kate for her invaluable help in securing compensation.
“After extended obstruction by the company, her intervention and related media coverage proved effective in obtaining a payout.”