Young farmers facing shattered dreams

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Spalding young farmers say hopes of running their own farms are being dashed by the rising cost of land and opportunities to take on tenancies disappearing.

They are adding their support to a campaign to protect barn owls in the Crowland area and save three farms that could be threatened by Peterborough City Council’s energy park plans.

On Saturday, members met colleagues from Newborough Young Farmers’ Club at Morris Fen Farm in Thorney, the site of an important 20-year study of barn owls.

Concern for barn owls and other wildlife on Newborough Farm, America Farm and Morris Fen has been part of the argument lodged by protestors, who fear the natural habitat will be destroyed by fields of solar panels – as well as tenant farmers losing their livelihoods.

Greg Sneath (25) is vice-chairman of Spalding Young Farmers’ Club. He said: “We’ve have come here today to support our friends in Newborough and help raise awareness about the threat to the barn owls.

“In Lincolnshire it is getting more and more difficult to get a council holding, even if your father has one.”

Stacey Stringer, chairman of Newborough Young Farmers’ Club, said: “Land around the Wash is very expensive – it’s fetching £10,000 an acre and is totally out of our reach to buy.

“If the farms are lost to the energy park plans and fewer tenancies are available it will shatter many young farmers’ dreams.”

Last week an e-petition was launched to protect the owls, which yesterday had 87 supporters – with 100,000 needed to get the energy park plans discussed in the House of Commons.

A local owl rescuer also joined the group to show support – and took along some of his own owls.

Simon Ellis, of Silver Wood Tearooms in Long Sutton, said: “Barn owls fly two meters above fields when hunting and the solar panels will be one meter high.

“They are already losing their homes with barns being converted and now plans for the energy park will take away their natural hunting grounds.”

To support the e-petition to protect the barn owls, visit http://epetitions.direct.gov.uk/petitions/45692




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