5 April 1996

Compensation tussle drags on needlessly

BEEF and sheep farmer Robert Thompson has been fighting for full compensation from the Highways Authority for the past eight years.

Mr Thompson, who runs a small herd of suckler cows and a flock of ewes on 29ha (73 acres) at Mouzel Farm, Dalton-in-Furness, Cumbria, was issued with a compulsory purchase order in 1988 to provide land for an access road for neighbours – which passes through the middle of his farmyard – as part of the towns by-pass.

Although he received a £9000 cheque once the road scheme began in 1991, he has been waiting for £3800, plus interest totalling £1200, ever since.

Despite contacting the NFU and local MP John Hutton (Lab, Barrow and Furness), he has been told by the agency that the money will only be forthcoming if he signs up the freehold of the road.

"My solicitor argues that if that happens I will be liable for the upkeep of the maintenance of the road even though they will effectively own it. I am not prepared to accept that responsibility.

"The valuation of the farm has dropped by at least 20% due to the combination of the access road passing so close to the farm and the drop in house prices. We have had it on the market twice with no luck," he said.

His anger has not been appeased by the fact that Cumbria County Council, which has been carrying out a nearby road improvement scheme linking Dalton-in-Furness with Askham-in-Furness, has paid farmers in advance of road work.

Mr Thompson said there should be a concerted "across the board" policy for both local authorities and the Highways Agency. &#42