Barn battle not over yet as review started

Residents opposed to the scheme in front of the site of the proposed buildings with the existing barn to the left and Embleton in the background.
Residents opposed to the scheme in front of the site of the proposed buildings with the existing barn to the left and Embleton in the background.

A controversial scheme for a livestock building in a north Northumberland coastal beauty spot is now the subject of a judicial review.

The approved plans are for a steel-framed livestock building, a 10,000-litre effluent tank as well as associated access, temporary accommodation, parking, fencing, landscaping, sewage treatment plant and drainage on land at Dunstan Steads Farm in Embleton.

And now David Ainsley, a member of an action group in the village, and Embleton Parish Council have begun proceedings for the decision to be subject to a judicial review.

Judicial reviews deal with legal and procedural matters and the option was taken as it was felt that the objectors had ‘their backs to the wall’.

Mr Ainsley said: “All the other avenues were closed to us so I suggested a judicial review was the only way forward.”

The first stage of the review involves the case going before a judge to decide if it merits going to court. This is expected to take place in October or November this year.

If it goes ahead to court, it will be well into 2013 before a decision is made.

The scheme, put forward by Duns-based farmer Ivor Gaston who wanted to expand his livestock operation, attracted 126 objections and a petition of more than 400 signatures ahead of the decision made by Northumberland County Council’s north area planning committee in April.

One of the major concerns for objectors was the effect it will have on the area, part of the Northumberland Coast Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) close to Embleton Bay and Dunstanburgh Castle, which both rely heavily on tourism.

But prior to the committee meeting in April, members had visited the site and views were expressed that the development would be screened and integrated into its surroundings and some said that it would not have the impact feared.

And Mr Gaston told the Gazette that he was ‘amazed’ at the level of opposition to his plans.

“All we want to do is extend our farming business from our farm here in Duns,” he said at the time.

“We want to run them both as one, rearing livestock and building it into a family business that can be passed on to our sons.”

• See Page 20 for a letter from David Ainsley.