We are farmers, not developers

In reply to Mr Ainsley’s letter in the Northumberland Gazette, August 24, Ivor, Rosemary and son Robert Gaston are farmers first and foremost, having built our business over a lifetime of 44 years.

We have grown our farming enterprise on the back of livestock rearing and are using at least half of the growing crops for feeding.

Dunstan Steads Farm, 405 acres, is capable of providing a good income for a family from livestock-rearing and crop-growing. The livestock building, when built, will hold up to 100 calves, which is not an industrial-scale operation. In fact, it is small by modern standards. There is absolutely no risk of our calves carrying TB as they come from a TB-free area. We have veterinary records to support this. I fear that Mr Ainsley’s ‘expert’ in calf-rearing is misguided in her report as our accountant and tax returns show a very healthy profit from calf-rearing.

Our buildings at Dunstan Steads Farm would not interfere with ‘dark skies’, no artificial lights will be on during darkness unless we are working late during harvest.

We know this is an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, which is why we picked a discreet area to erect our buildings. We could have erected these buildings on the concrete lane beside the old existing shed, which is right in front of Dunstanburgh Castle, but to protect the scenery we chose to locate the buildings well away from the castle and set them in an area surrounded by woods, trees and hedging.

As Dunstan Steads Farm lies within Craster Parish Council, (who have no objections), would Mr Ainsley and Embleton Parish Council give the Gaston family a chance to prove that we are not property developers? My wife and I wish to live and work at Dunstan Steads Farm, call it our home, and join in the village activities like we have done in the village close to Ravelaw.

Ivor, Rosemary and Robert Gaston,

Ravelaw and Dunstan Steads Farms,

It has been pointed out to me that I was mistaken in asserting that the applicant in the Dunstan Steads case had applied to remove the planning conditions attached to the planning permission granted in April and I’m happy to make it clear that I accept this.

Unfortunately, however, the applicant has to date appeared to have ignored at least a couple of conditions which do apply regarding the mobile home and so I cannot say that concerns about his regard for the environment and his fellow citizens have gone away.

Quite the contrary and I remain particularly concerned about the dark skies issue not least because light emissions from internal lighting (through skylights and the windows of the mobile home) have not been addressed at all by the authorities.

As ever I may be reached via dainsley@dunstansteads.org.uk

David Ainsley,

Embleton