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Thursday 3 October 2013

Down to earth with a bump

So my pretensions at being a philosopher and healing the troubles of the world were firmly halted in their tracks by the arrival of a flyer from the Parish Council.

So, dear readers, what would you do about this little situation?

Say, five years ago, someone had come along and told you that you had to sell them a strip of your land, through the middle of your garden.  They didn't want to buy the land on the far side away from your house.  Just the strip in the middle.  And no, they were not going to negotiate or even discuss a price, just now but please be assured that you would be "compensated" for this.

Welcome to the power of the Highways Agency and Compulsory Purchase Orders.

Five years ago, the A14 was "straightened" through the middle of the farm - for the second time in 35 years.  One of the perils of living and farming beside the road to the second biggest container port in Europe - Felixstowe.

They took the road right through the middle of three or four of the most productive fields on the farm (and our neighbour's farm).  The contractors were, quite frankly, a nightmare, sharks and rolled us over on everything and would shout and bully on the telephone - a certain Mr Huckstep still haunts my nightmares.  The build was a "self-build" which meant they made it up as they went along.  The fields on either side of the road have been ruined, filled with stuff that should have been taken away, land drains smashed and not replaced, ditches filled in without drains so fields flood (and WE get into trouble with the Environment Agency, for not seeking the permissions) or not filled in but all the drains that lead into them have been severed, adjoining fields almost unworkable due to them driving (without permission again) heavy machinery all over them and compacting the soil, etc etc etc.  The list is too Ranty making to go on.

Anyways, we still have not received our compensation package.  Five and a half years since the project started and five years since it finished, we are slogging it out with the Highways Agency - we are on our third District Valuer, our umpteenth contact at HA and our darling Land Agent is definitely greyer than when we first started.  We were warned at the beginning that no amount of money would be enough and we would always feel resentful.  Fair enough.  Something would be good though....

We now have two fields, divided by a 4 lane dual carriageway, with awkward corners, bits of plastic and no proper drainage.  The "replacement" soil, as you can see from the picture above sure is the Grade II stuff that was there before and not spoil from the road.

We were approached by a Wind Turbine company to put up a couple of wind turbines on it.  It would not interfere with the farming as they are high enough for the machinery to pass under and there are no houses within half a mile and they would be very visible from the A14 but not really from the local village (which includes us!).  We said Go Ahead and apply for planning in your name and see what happens but we want nothing to do with it, being under a bit of strain just now.

Hmmm.  The planning went in yesterday and I have already had to send one email correcting a few facts and suggesting that they invite Urban Wind to the emergency meeting rather than going on a Ranty Spree spouting Daily Mail NIMBY stuff about the village having to pay for it.  It will be an interesting week I can see.

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