As can be seen from my last post the planning system lies at the root of our problem. It is no accident that it is very difficult to find a place where we can share a reasonable amount of space in the countryside for a sensible amount of money.
Simon Fairlie writing on the ‘Land is Ours” website expresses the problem very clearly with a quote from a member of the Sailsbury planning committee.
When Jill Delaney applied for permission to put up a shed for her free range chickens three years ago, she was rudely rebuffed. “We must put a stop to these quasi-agricultural activities which are springing up all over the country,” said Salisbury planning committee member, David Parker, who later went on to explain; ‘What I mean by quasi-agricultural is a mess of peasant farming which prevents the Common Agricultural Policy from working efficiently in Europe’.
One might be forgiven for assuming that, in a democratic Britain, every farmer – big or small, peasant or patrician – had an equal right to build a chicken house. Not so. The right to put up any agricultural building is a question of wealth; it is unconditionally available only to those who own 12 acres or more, a sizeable holding by the standards of most European countries.
A similar hurdle stands in the way of those who may have, say, 15 or 30 acres, and who, like any farmer, want to live on their property. To obtain permission to move onto their holding, be it in a newly built house, a converted out-building, a caravan or a tent, they must first prove that, by the standards of the Ministry of Agriculture, they are ‘viable’ – three acres and a cow is not enough, nowadays you need over 50 dairy cows or 160 beef cattle. For many smallholders, accustomed to, or intent upon living partly off their own produce, this level of production is as unnecessary as it is unattainable.
Do we really need to shepherd all but an elite into suburban estates so that they may amble round a spotlessly managed country park on Sundays?
Zoning out the Peasants: Simon Fairlie
The same site has a series of essays on the topic and explaining exactly why the problem exists. The question now is how do we in Prospect get around the problem:
- Do we have to move abroad to find somewhere we can legally live on the land?
- Do we have to mortgage ourselves up to the hilt on one of the few places around which do have residential permissions?
- Do we have to resord to surripticious means – hiding in the woods – to get what we want?
Comments and thoughts please. Either here or on my Facebook Page.
The Land is ours is the home of The Land magazine- a key forum and resource.