October 10, 2008

Boar Farmer Fights to Keep ‘Life’s Work’

A farmer has won the right to carry on his fight against planning enforcement action he claims threatens his "life's work" - a boar- rearing enterprise.

Lawyers for the Government had hoped to have the challenge brought by Alan Dedames to a planning inspector's decision in relation to his Woodland Wild Boar Farm at West Anstey, South Molton, North Devon, thrown out by top judge Sir George Newman.

However, the judge at London's High Court has adjourned the case for Mr Dedames to seek further legal advice and for the court to obtain more information from North Devon District Council, which took the enforcement action.

Although the Government inspector accepted Mr Dedames boar- rearing and Shitake mushroom growing enterprises at the farm had planning permission, as agricultural uses of the land, he backed a council enforcement notice requiring the removal of vehicles, caravans, structures and hardstanding from the property which the farmer claims is essential to keep his business going.

He told the judge he has now removed a bus and a coach he used to keep food for the animals in, and had now taken to buying food in smaller quantities and keeping it in his car.

But he said the shipping container housed a water treatment works to make water from a borehole drinkable for the boars.

He said he and his family have had to move into three joined-up caravans on the site to protect the boars after a number of attacks by what he claims were animal rights "terrorists". He needs so many caravans because he has three sons, he told the court.

He argued he also needs to bring his car onto the property, which is technically barred by the enforcement notice.

He said that while he has planning permission for three polytunnels in which he grows Shitake mushrooms and oriental-style vegetables, the enforcement notice requires him to remove the hardstanding which is his only means of access to them.

He argued he is trying to build his business back up after the attacks cost him a large number of boars. He claimed to have been in business since 1996, and to have at one point had 102 animals on the site.

The inspector found that there are currently fewer than the 32 required to justify a farm worker being allowed to live permanently on the site.

Mr Dedames told the judge the inspector's decision will end any chance of him developing his business, adding: "I am fighting to save a life's work."

Adjourning the case, the judge said: "One can see that issues arise at least arguably in connection with the conclusions reached by the inspector."

He said more material was required in order "to get to the bottom of what this case is about", adding Mr Dedames should not take it as a finding he had a good case.

He ordered the district council to produce all the material it placed before the inspector within 21 days.

He told Mr Dedames to apply for legal aid to seek advice from lawyers ahead of the resumed hearing.

The case will return to court at a future date, and if possible before the same judge.

Mr Dedames ultimately hopes to win a ruling forcing the country's planning supremo, Local Government Secretary Hazel Blears to have his case reconsidered by a different inspector.

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