WESTON HILLS JET CRASH ANNIVERSARY: Land owner still waiting for compensation
The landowner of the crash site is still waiting for the outcome of a compensation claim.
Initially, Charlie Rawlings told the RAF, which was responsible for the recovery and clean-up operation, that he was not interested in any money. He would be satisfied with the contaminated area – about one quarter of an acre - being restored to its original condition, as far as was possible.
However, Mr Rawlings, who lives in Weston Hills, says that a much larger area - about three acres - became contaminated during the clean-up and that changed his view.
“The field has been devalued because of the plane crash. Five years after the crash we’re still fighting the MoD,” he said. “It’s incredible and I’m frustrated.
“Fortunately it’s not my livelihood – had it been I would have been desperate.”
Mr Rawlings runs bed and breakfast accommodation in the village and is also landlord of the Priors Oven micropub in Spalding.
He vividly remembers the moment he heard about the crash from friend Ben Halgarth.
“I was fishing in Scotland when he rang me and said ‘you won’t believe what’s just landed in your field’. When he told me I believed him because it was too absurd to be a joke.
“I came back that night to find the village sealed off, I couldn’t get near the field. It was a couple of days before I got on there.”
Mr Rawlings says initially 400 tonnes of soil was deemed contaminated but it ended up being 1,300 across the field, which had been used for growing potatoes. The hole created from the clean-up of the actual impact site was filled the following summer.
“It hasn’t been cropped for food since.” he said. “The soil which was used to replace it was good but things grow differently. I’m not saying that’s good or bad – just different. Every farmer would want a field to be consistent.”
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Mr Rawlings says he was last contacted by the MoD in June to say it was in the process of gaining a land valuation.
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More by this authorNigel Chapman