DEVON COUNTY Council’s tenant farmers are furious over plans to split off land from three of its farms to build a permanent gypsy transit site.

Gaynor and Kieran Wellwood have been renting the 49ha (120-acre) Fairfield Farm, near Newton Abbot, for 18 months and were building up the size of their dairy herd to increase cost efficiencies.

But last Thursday the council said it planned to take back 3ha (7 acres) of their best land, along with blocks of land from two neighbouring farms, to build a gypsy site.

“We have invested heavily in the farm on the premise that we were going to expand,” said Mrs Wellwood. “We will now have to cut back cow numbers, which will compromise the viability of our business.”

The move also went against the 10-year plan for the county farms, which was to expand the individual farm sizes, she said.

 Mrs Wellwood was shocked that the tenants’ association had not been consulted and that the plans had already been submitted to the planning department. “We think there has been an abuse of power, an abuse of tenants and an abuse of the county farms.”

Another concern was this would set a precedent of using council farmland for future developments.