22 December 1995

Farmer fears livelihood if new

neighbours complain of smell

By Shelley Wright

WILTS farmer Bill Braid fears he could be driven out of business if plans to build a house 12in from his silage barn are approved.

Mr Braid, Mill Farm, Hawkeridge, says council environmental inspectors have told him he would be liable if new residents complained about the smell from the silage.

The planning application to convert a derelict barn into a house, on land adjacent to Mr Braids farm buildings, was rejected in September by West Wilts district councillors. They said the proposed house would add nothing to the local environment.

But the barns owner has appealed. Mr Braid has until Jan 12 to submit evidence on what he describes as a ludicrous application.

The back wall of the planned house would run the length of the silage barn. Mr Braid said the 92 creosoted sleepers that make up one wall of the clamp are a fire hazard. There is the risk of toxic fumes from the silage and the danger that tractors could slip from the clamp and damage the house.

When the original planning application was made, Mr Braid contacted the councils environmental department. An official wrote to him saying that under the Environmental Protection Act, 1990, if the new neighbours complained about a noise or nuisance from the silage-making then the council would have to investigate.

"If a statutory nuisance is established the council will have to take formal action. The perpetrator of the nuisance has no defence that the complainant moved to the odour/noise," the letter states.

"If I wanted to put up a silage clamp 12in from a house there would be a public outcry," said Mr Braid. "Yet if the appeal gives the go-ahead for this house, I could be forced out of business because as soon as someone moves in they can complain about my silage."

Mr Braid said he has spent his life building up his small 32.4 ha (80-acre) farm. "We started over 30 years ago buying orphan lambs. Gradually we built up a flock of ewes and a herd of beef cattle, and now everything is threatened by thiscrazy planning application."n

Bill Braid: liable if new residents complain about smell from silage.