22 March 2002

Tenant fears CSS cost

By Wendy Owen

North-east correspondent

A TENANT farmer in North Yorks who hopes to put his land into the Countryside Stewardship Scheme fears he could end up paying thousands of £s in dilapidation charges to his landlord if he decides to give up his tenancy when the scheme ends.

"Part of my Stewardship application includes putting in 6m grass strips around some of the arable fields which adjoin watercourses on the farm," says Ron Hall, of Marton Cottage Farm, near York. "When the scheme ends, these strips will be assessed and I will be told whether I am allowed to plough them out and put them back into production.

"But they might be considered too valuable to the environment and I will have no choice but to leave them in. That is no problem if I want to continue the tenancy, but if I decide to leave the farm the landlord could charge dilapidation because that area of land would be out of production indefinitely.

"It could amount to thousands of £s because the area totals about 2ha (5 acres). It would almost certainly cost me more than the money I would get from being in the scheme. "

Mr Hall has received approval for the Countryside Stewardship Scheme, but was alerted to the dilapidation issue by an article he saw in FW earlier this year.

He says he cannot make any decisions until he knows whether the charges will be imposed. Without the grassland strips, the 36ha (90 acres) arable and pig farm will not qualify for the scheme. His landlord, North Yorkshire County Council is considering the issue.

"I am not planning to leave the farm now, but who knows what the future will hold in 10 years time?" says Mr Hall. &#42