Villagers 'devastated' over 'reinstated' lane
A ROW has erupted in a small village near St Eval after a farmer cut down trees and shrubs to "reinstate" a country lane.
Villagers in Treburrick say they are "devastated" by the actions of farmer James Old, who used heavy machinery to plough through undergrowth on the lane last Saturday.
They are also fuming that he failed to consult them before he took his machinery to the greenery.
St Eval parish councillor Kim Hayward, 54, said she was "devastated" about the farmer's actions as there is now a lane directly in front of her cottage, where there was once a wildlife corridor.
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"It's devastating what he has done, nobody saw this coming," Mrs Hayward said.
"Not only has it opened an ugly great big gaping hole right in front of my cottage, but it's ripped the heart out of this small village. It's a huge scar."
The overgrown lane used to be a wildlife haven full of large trees and animals, Mrs Hayward said, stating that she has barely slept since the incident.
"I've been crying about it because it will never grow back to what it used to be in my lifetime," she said.
"It could also cause a major flooding problem for us because the lane faces downhill and there is nothing there to soak up the water from the fields above."
Mr Old, who owns Great Treburrick Farm, said he was within his right to open up the lane as the Land Registry had informed him the land is not owned by anyone.
"That used to be a country lane years ago, and I have just gone in and reinstated it to what it used to be, out of my own pocket," he said. "The Forestry Commission said we did a good thing for natural England. It was just full of weeds and rubbish."
Mr Old plans to lay Tarmac chippings to make it easier to drive his machinery to and from his farm, but Mrs Hayward placed her truck and horse trailer at both sides to prevent him from carrying out his plans.
"I've got a business to run, the other lane is dangerous, especially the junction at the top," Mr Old said.
"It will also be far safer; I nearly hit a motorbike with my tractor once because the junction is so blind."
Mr Old has contacted the police about moving Mrs Hayward's vehicles so he can carry out his work.
Although Mrs Hayward and other residents complained to the council, the authority said it is powerless to intervene as the lane is private and not part of the highway network.
"We are seeking further advice to see if we can assist the residents with their concerns," a council statement said.
Mrs Hayward said she was confused as to why Mr Old did not at least consult the residents about his plans.
"I want him to go in there and plant some trees and fix the problem. We do not want machinery coming down there directly in front of our cottages."