Northumberland farmer hits back at motocross claims

A farmer and businessman has hit back at claims he has been using his land for motorsports events.

By James Harrison
Sunday, 1st August 2021, 8:00 am
The Sill, Northumberland National Park.
The Sill, Northumberland National Park.

Graham Varty had been attempting to secure planning permission to build four holiday ‘chalets’ on land he owns at Donkleywood, near Kielder Water.

But opposition from families living nearby, as well as a conclusion by development bosses that the scheme would be an ‘incongruous addition’ to the landscape, saw the application turned down.

Defending the scheme, Varty told the Northumberland National Park Authority’s Development Management Committee on Wednesday, July 28: “I would like to state categorically, that at no time has my company, in any of the time I’ve been there, had anything to do with any motor sports or motocross.

“It’s grossly inaccurate to say that, and unfair to say so,” he added.

“What really confuses and disappoints me is I have tried to work hand in hand with the planners [but] every site that I proposed where I wished to put a log cabin or chalet was refused.

“But the site proposed was suggested by a national park planner and I don’t understand where all these issues have come from.”

Planning bosses for the national park insisted any ‘pre-application’ advice would not have been intended as a guarantee of approval for the proposals.

They also said that any claims about the land being used for motorsports would not be relevant to a decision on the scheme.

Instead, they argued it should be turned down on the grounds that it would cause ‘undue harm to the landscape’, as well as criticising a lack of detail on the plans for managing the construction process, as well as noise and light pollution.

Meanwhile, members of the panel also sided with the national park’s planning department on plans for a six-bedroom bunkhouse in Alwinton.

Despite some objections to the proposals, including from Alwinton Parish Council, which is opposed to the location, planners concluded that the scheme would help support the ‘rural economy’, as well as provide a boost to the village’s Rose and Thistle pub, which was behind the plans.

James Harrison

Local Democracy Reporting Service