Protestors’ dismay at farm decision

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HOTLY-CONTESTED plans for a livestock-rearing operation at a coastal beauty spot have been given the go-ahead, to the dismay of protesters.

Despite sparking hundreds of objections, the controversial scheme for Dunstan Steads Farm, Embleton, was passed on a majority verdict by members of the committee.

The application, by farmer Ivor Gaston, was for a steel-framed livestock building, a 10,000-litre effluent tank, temporary accommodation in the form of a caravan, a sewage treatment plant and drainage, parking areas, a boundary fence, landscaping and associated access.

But objectors hit out at the bid – which was recommended for approval – on a number of grounds, including fears over its effect on the area, which is part of the Northumberland Coast Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB), and in particular its impact on the view of Dunstanburgh Castle.

And in the wake of the decision, protesters are considering their next move.

Mick Townsend, of the Dunstanburgh Castle Hotel, said: “It is an utter shambles as far as we are concerned. At the moment, we are putting out some feelers and taking legal advice on the issue.

“It is an expensive process to go to a judicial review but it has created a lot of anger. It is early days and we will see what happens.”

Objectors had raised a wide-range of concerns, including the scale of development, increased traffic and the effect on tourism and visitor economy, while one protester told Thursday’s meeting that the proposal was based on ‘sham economics’ and was ‘unsustainable’.

Concerns had been raised from the likes of the National Trust, Northumberland Tourism and parish councillors.

However, planning officers put the scheme forward for approval, subject to conditions.

Senior planning officer Neil Armstrong stated that the application would be an acceptable form of agricultural development and would not cause any significant harm to the area, or on aspects such as tourism, and there was not sufficient grounds to refuse.

Members of the committee 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.

Coun Anthony Murray said: “I have thought very carefully about whether it does compromise Dunstanburgh Castle and the setting, and my view is that there is little compromising of the castle.”

Coun Gordon Castle added that ‘major players’ such as English Heritage had not objected.

Mr Gaston, who farms at Duns in the Scottish Borders said he wants to use the site to rear young cattle and build it into a thriving business ‘which we can call our home’.