CPO jeopardises cattle business

South Yorkshire producer Chris Rawlinson, who rears dairy calves for finishing on 14ha (35 acres) at Hilltop Farm near Barnsley, says his business will have to close if proposals for a new by-pass go ahead as planned next April.

A draft compulsory purchase order (CPO) has already been issued for the one acre of land on which his buildings are sited on the route of the proposed Cudworth and West Green by-pass.

But Mr Rawlinson has not been told how much compensation he will receive, and several options which he says would allow the by-pass to go ahead without affecting his business have been rejected by Barnsley council without explanation.

“I am in full support of the by-pass – it is desperately needed because of congestion in the village,” says Mr Rawlinson.

“But I can’t understand why the council won’t look at alternatives which would achieve its aim without closing me down.

“I will fight to hold on to my buildings.

As a farmer, I have come through the foot-and-mouth outbreak and now I am struggling with poor beef prices.

Having to cope with this as well is making me ill.”

A public meeting is being held in September to discuss the objections raised by Mr Rawlinson, and four other farmers whose land is under CPOs because of the by-pass.

But he has been told by his land agent that, even if adequate compensation is granted to cover the cost of new buildings, payment delays are likely to leave him with nowhere to house cattle for a considerable period.

“The council doesn’t seem to understand that farming can’t operate on a stop-and-start basis.

If I am forced to stop buying-in calves, it would be very difficult to start up again and it will probably mean the end of my business,” says Mr Rawlinson.

Responding to Mr Rawlinson’s complaints, a council spokesman said that negotiations would continue with anyone who had objected to the scheme.

“Agreement has been reached with a number of objectors,” said councillor Roy Miller.

“Any outstanding objections will be heard at the public inquiry.”

In the meantime, negotiations will continue with Mr Rawlinson and his agent to try to reach an agreement.