The Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine acted unfairly is seeking to recover over €25,000 from a Kerry farmer whose land had flooded.
The ruling by Ombudsman Peter Tyndall found in favour of the man, who had received the grant to establish a forest in land.
The Kerry farmer applied to the Department of Agriculture for grant aid under its Afforestation Scheme in 2004.The forest was subsequently destroyed following severe flooding in 2009.
Ombudsman Peter Tyndall ruled that where people applied for grants in good faith, they should not be reclaimed.
He said in the Kerry farmer’s case, he had lost his crop through no fault of his own and was then hit with the double blow of a bill from the department.
The Department had argued the farmer knew his land was subject to flooding when he made the application and was partially responsible for the damage caused.
However, the Ombudsman discovered the Department had inspected the land prior to the application and had been made aware it was prone to flooding.
Mr Tyndall was also satisfied the Department’s definition of ‘force majeure’ applied in this case.
The Department has agreed not to pursue the payment.