Peak District Farmer and a ditch too far

A farmer has been ordered to pay financial penalties totalling £18,710 and to carry out restoration work at his own expense, after admitting to carrying out un-authorised activities in an area legally protected for its rare geological features and upland habitats, within the Peak District National Park.

Robert Hall of Longnor, Buxton pleaded guilty to un-authorised ditch work and dumping spoil along the ditch edge, rush cutting and overgrazing at High Peak Magistrates Court on Thursday. His actions, within the Goyt Valley Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) have resulted in significant damage to the interest features for which the site is notified.

The four separate offences first came to light during a routine monitoring visit in July 2009. Since then Natural England has made several attempts to persuade Mr Hall to comply with his legal obligations, including offers to help draw up a formal management plan and to explore the options for entering the land into the Higher Level Stewardship (HLS) scheme. Under HLS, land managers are rewarded financially for managing their land in an environmentally-friendly way.

The court has ordered Mr Hall to dam the drainage ditches and modify his grazing regime.

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