Farmer faces £250k bill or jail for unlawful build

A farmer who unlawfully erected buildings on green belt land must pay £250,000 or serve a three-year jail sentence, an appeal court has ruled.

In 2009, Daniel Charles Beech, 63, ignored enforcement notices from Runnymede Borough Council warning him about unauthorised development and change of use in the buildings.

Last September, Guildford County Court in Surrey, heard Mr Beech operated a string of unauthorised businesses and earned more than £300,000 from ice storage, furniture haulage and other businesses.

Mr Beech, of Padd Farm, Egham, Surrey, was hit with a £250,000 confiscation order, with three years’ imprisonment in default of payment.

He said the £250,000 – a bid by the court to reclaim some of the earnings – was calculated wrongly and took his case to the London’s Criminal Appeal Court.

But on Wednesday (22 January) Lord Justice Davis, Mr Justice Blake and Judge Keith Cutler, threw out the appeal.

The court heard that Runnymede Council issued enforcement notices to the farmer in February 2009, but a lengthy appeals process followed.

Mr Beech’s legal team argued the council’s lawyers had presented incorrect figures to the judge who made the confiscation order, and money that had passed through a bank account in his son’s name ought not to have been counted.

But Judge Cutler, giving the court’s ruling said: “Mr Beech has failed to comply with enforcement notices.”

The judge added that confiscation orders such as that imposed on Beech are governed by “what sometimes seems very harsh legislation” but went on to find that the order had been properly made.

“The law was properly applied. He has no complaint. This application must be refused,” the judge added.

See also: Planning permission advice for farmers