26 November 1999
Farmer sunk by coastal erosion

By David Green

A YORKSHIRE-BASED pig producer has become the UKs first farmer to have his business killed off by coastal erosion.

Shawn Mars and his wife Yvonne stand to receive no compensation after wind battered sea defences protecting their land along the east coast of England.

The couple ran a 120-sow herd on clifftop land at Cowden which they took over 10 years ago when the North Sea was 120m (130 yards) away from their farm.

Today the cliff edge is less than 18.5m (20 yards) away and the farm buildings are being dismantled to prevent them falling onto the shore.

The pigs were sold four months ago when the farm track became too dangerous for feed lorries. The farmhouse is likely to be habitable for only a few more months.

Earlier this year, a land tribunal rejected Mr and Mrs Mars submission that new sea defences a short distance up the coast had increased the rate of erosion.

“The groynes prevent the north-south drift of sand which used to be deposited at the foot of the cliffs and reduce the impact of the waves,” said Mrs Mars.

“In the first year after the arrival of the groynes we lost 40m of cliff.”

The couple have been told that not only is there no compensation available, they will have to bear the cost of dismantling the piggeries and the farmhouse.

Mr and Mrs Mars say they will shortly become homeless yet will have to go on repaying the mortgage loan they took out 10 years ago to buy the farm.

MAFF is considering the introduction of a system for compensating owners whose land is abandoned to the sea, but it is likely to apply only to low-lying land.