Content included in this document:
Summary of case - Summary
Map 1 - Map 1
Map 2 - Map 2
Explanation of case - Explanation
Link to view photographs - View Photographs (link opens in new window)
Link to sign the petition online - Sign Here (link opens in new window)
April 4th 2007
We, the undersigned, believe that Ceredigion County Council's proposed public footpath route through Cardigan Island Coastal Farm Park , Gwbert, Cardigan, Ceredigion, Wales, is wholly unacceptable and will greatly jeopardise the future viability of the farm park.
Therefore, we support Mr and Mrs L.J. Jenkins in their fight and ask Ceredigion County Council to bypass Clyn-yr-ynys farm and Cardigan Island Coastal Farm Park, by continuing the path along the public road from Gwbert to Ferwig, to join the existing coastal bridleway, through Nant-y-Croi farm, to Mwnt, as shown on the accompanying Map 2 of the area.
This is Ceredigion County Council's version of the map on which councillors voted for a public path on March 1st 2006. Note that all written detail has been removed. Therefore, how could County Councillors, from 20 to 50 miles away, who have never, ever been on this land or the route of the proposed path, know what they were voting for?
The Council has removed the following from the O.S map:-
a] Village names, including Gwbert and Ferwig;
b] All farm names, including Clyn-yr-ynys, Nant-y-Croi and Crug Bychan;
c] All mention of Cardigan Island Coastal Farm Park and its buildings and boundaries;
d] The farm park entrance road and car park.
e] All mention of Cardigan Golf Course and its confines;
f] All public road numbers.
g] The alternative route for the coastal path, circumventing the farm park by 0.6 miles.
They do not even have an explanatory "key" for the map. As an ex-Ordnance Survey Cartographic Surveyor, I do not regard that as a bona fide map, because it has no written explanatory details whatsoever.
The Council presented the inspector with two blue files of important written evidence, each four inches thick, for the Public Inquiry. Yet, this "map", which should have been a leading piece of documentary evidence at the hearing, was deliberately not included by the Council's legal team.
It was left to myself, Lyn James Jenkins, to hand over a copy of this crucial documentary evidence to the inspector. Yet the inspector did not even mention this deliberate, devious act of deception in his report. Instead, he saw fit to agree with the Council regarding the footpath Order.
Is this justice?
Map 2 is my [ L. J. Jenkins's] version of the same map, with all relevant detail included. This map was handed to the inspector several weeks before the Public Inquiry, by my solicitor.
Note that the following are included:-
a] All farm names;
b] Cardigan Island Coastal Farm Park's extent and boundaries;
c] All existing public paths and bridleways;
d] The Clyn-yr-ynys farm boundary;
e] The location of the two year old visitor centre;
f] The farm park car park and entrance road;
g] Cardigan Golf Course
h] All public roads are marked.
i] An alternative route for the public path is shown in red, which avoids the farm park.
j] Route used through the farm park by the "tractor and trailer taxi".
I maintain that if the Councillors had been presented with this form of detailed map for their vote on March 1st 2006, that the majority would have voted differently, because they would have realised the extent of the incursion into farm park territory and therefore, the damage being caused to the viability of the farm park by the proposed route.
How can any business charge entry at the front door, with the back-door wide open? It is ludicrous!!
Re: Proposed public path from point "P" to point "F", via point "L", as shown on Map 2.
Ceredigion County Council has proposals to complete a coastal public path, from Cardigan, in the south of the county, to Borth in the north. This is a distance of 63 miles.
In order to complete the final missing sections, the council served compulsory path creation orders on some landowners, including ourselves, in the spring of 2006.
The Law being enacted for this purpose is Section 26 of the "Highways Act, 1980". This allows any local authority to create a new Right of Way through any private land, as long as it pays compensation.
The compensation being offered to us is around £4,000 per acre, which is only a little above the agricultural value of the land.
However, the proposed path is 'Z' shaped, or to be more accurate, like half a Swastika!!??
The path is 2300 metres long and between 2 and 3 metres wide. The council has no plans to fence it in. Who is going to walk along an unfenced path of this shape for 1.5 miles? Walkers are bound to trespass as they please, all over our farm. Yet the council only intends to pay us a mere £3 per linear metre compensation, for 2300 metres. This amounts to a £6900 one-off payment for a path 1.5 miles long through our land. It is tantamount to theft!
Not only does the new path cut our farm in half, at right-angles to the coast, making it impossible to farm, due to the presence of people and dogs all over our fields throughout the year, but half of the path (0.75 miles, in fact) is actually within Cardigan Island Coastal Farm Park.
We obtained "change of use" from Ceredigion County Council's planning department, from agriculture to farm park usage, for our coastal strip, from point 'C' to our eastern boundary at point 'F' in April 2002. This is depicted by half the yellow shaded area on Map 2. We are not permitted to allow visitors to walk between points 'C' and 'F', because the cliff-tops are unfenced and between 100 feet and 200 feet in height.
Our public liability insurance, which costs almost £2000 per annum in premiums, does not allow our visitors onto unfenced cliffs.
Our planning permission from point 'C' to point 'F' in 2002 stipulated that we were only permitted to carry visitors within the safety of our "tractor and trailer taxi" in that area. We generally do these extended tractor trips in September and October of each year, after cereals have been harvested from an intervening field. We have sometimes done them earlier in the past.
It is ludicrous that a council can allow walkers onto an unfenced cliff-top area of our farm park, which is highly dangerous in several places (see photographs), whilst we, the farm park proprietors, are only permitted to access the same area within the high-sided trailer for safety reasons. Who insures the walkers brought there by the council?
Not only that! The three fields with bold dots to the west of point ‘F’ are a “Site of Special Scientific Interest” (SSSI), as designated by the Countryside Council for Wales (CCW). The SSSI was designated due to the rare wild plants that grow there. Between points ‘T’ and ‘V’, there is only a distance of between one foot and six feet width of cliff-top, between the SSSI fields and a sheer drop of 200 feet over the cliffs. That area is obviously too dangerous for a cliff-top path that will attract families with young children. So a Government body, CCW, is prepared to break SSSI rules and to allow a new public path to be created through the rare plants, thereby totally destroying them.
No fewer than four botanists were paid out of the public purse to study those fields. The SSSI designation was compulsorily inflicted on us, preventing us from spraying and fertilising those fields. According to CCW at the time, the rare plants were far too important!
Now, Government rules are being flouted and rare plants discarded, in parts of the fields, so that a Government body can assist fellow public servants in a Local Authority! How incestuous is that? How hypocritical is that?
If this public path is imposed on us, many people will use it to get into our farm park free of charge. How can that be fair and just? How can we charge for entry at the front door with the back door wide open? It is preposterous!
Our farm park and its boundaries, with a superimposed public path, will appear in tourist brochures and walking books galore, as writers cash in on our farm park. Our business will suffer dramatically.
The County Council has no public car park anywhere near point ‘P’ on the Gwbert/Ferwig road, next to our main entrance. So where will public path users park their cars? Our car parks are for farm park users only. It is evident that many will attempt to park in our car parks, then walk up our drive to access the public path to avoid paying farm park entry. This is totally unacceptable to us!
We have invested £75,000 in our entrance road alone! In fact, we have invested over £700,000 in the farm park over the fifteen years since 1992. It took us 12 years to save up for and create our visitor centre, which has cost £350,000. We only opened this major facility in July 2004. Now, less than three years later, our own County Council is destroying our business by bringing the general public into our farm park free of charge.
The Council will be throwing up to ten local people out of work, because we have no intention of struggling on with the chaos that will ensue.
That chaos is certain to occur! Since there is no car park anywhere in Gwbert for the public path, some walkers are bound to park their cars along the side of our top entrance lane, out of sight of ourselves in the visitor centre.
A car could be left at 8am or 9am, before our customers arrive, or even at 10am, if the entrance gates are locked overnight. If even one car is parked on our narrow lane, no vehicle will be able to enter the farm park that day. The walker will be at least 5 miles away on the coast, oblivious to the chaos. No-one will find the driver! Once one car is parked other drivers inevitably copy.
If anyone parks later in the day on that upper lane, how will vehicles, especially large coaches, leave the premises? There will be absolute pandemonium!
This will be no ordinary public path. We advertise with 150,000 leaflets a year and dozens of websites. All of our www.visit-the-world.co.uk link sites connect to www.cardiganisland.com. We will be spending tens of thousands of pounds per annum, advertising for our own trespassers! How perverse!!
Since the farm park entrance and public path access are immediately next to each other on the Gwbert/Ferwig road, our entrance will become dangerous, as public path users, unable to find a car-park, do three point turns at our entrance. Confusion will reign! Most visitors will be unfamiliar with the area.
We have not had a single reported vehicle accident at our entrance in 14 years. That exemplary record will not last! If one vehicle is left parked on our entrance lane, there will be static tail-backs up and down the public road.
The Welsh Assembly Government Planning Inspectorate held a public inquiry into our objections to the public path in February 2007. The inspector backed the council’s proposals for the path, even though it clearly enters our farm park. However, he did say that we would be liable to receive compensation from Ceredigion County Council if we lose income due to road congestion or blockage. How will that be evaluated? Irate customers, unable to enter once, will not return and they will pass the message on to others in their hotels and on their caravan sites etc.
Coach drivers will inform colleagues very soon via CB radio, Internet chat lines, and conversations in meeting places! Our trade will fall away rapidly, because thousands will not even attempt to come to the farm park, when talk of traffic chaos gets around. Bad news travels fast!
There are 43 councillors on Ceredigion County Council. Only ONE has ever been on the land chosen for the public path route. The farm park has been open for 14 years. Councillors voted for this route on March 1st 2006 … St. David’s Day! (A good day to kill off an indigenous Welsh business … it was ever thus in Wales!!)
The map on which councillors voted is Map 1. You will notice that it is totally devoid of any details. There are no farm names; no road names; no golf-course; no mention of the farm park or its extent; no explanation … not even a simple key!! How could councillors, from 40 or 50 miles away, vote on such a map without ever having been here?
The map was prepared by the council’s footpath officers and taken from the Ordnance Survey map. The O.S. map has been doctored to remove every single detail. I am an ex-Ordnance Survey cartographic surveyor. Including correctly-spelt place-names and house names on O.S. maps was considered extremely important. It is not a map unless the reader can identify all its features. So, how can the council’s Map 1 be called a map?
Furthermore, two files of evidence, each four inches thick, were presented by the council to the inspector at the inquiry. The council’s crucial ‘Map 1’ was not even placed in the file. Yet the inspector did not even pass comment on this illegal, devious action. How could it be right for the council to with-hold this crucial evidence?
I personally produced the detailed version ‘Map 2’ for the Public Inquiry and held up both versions whilst giving evidence. I asked the inspector if he had received both maps and was surprised to be told that he had not even seen ‘Map 1’ prior to that. Yet he still backed the council!?
I was not even presented with ‘Map 1’ until 15 minutes into the council debate on March 1st 2006 and therefore I had not seen the footpath route on a map, rudimentary or otherwise. So how could I prepare a defence at the time? My County Councillor, Haydn Lewis, was not shown the map until the debate commenced on March 1st. Is this democracy? Again the inspector has not criticised the council for their actions.
A few months after the March 1st vote, I questioned six County Councillors and asked them why they had voted for a public path into our farm park. Five replied that they had not done so. They said that the path did not enter the farm park, when it clearly does so, as shown on ‘Map 2’. They had not understood the issue, because the farm park is not even shown on ‘Map 1’. Two of those councillors then gave me signed letters to say so, at the public inquiry. The other three councillors would not put it in writing. Instead, they spoke to the Footpaths Officer, Ian Dutch, who persuaded them otherwise. Therefore, the inspector calls the evidence from the three councillors “hearsay”.
My wife is a witness to a conversation last summer, with Cardigan councillor, Alan Wilson, who clearly told us that he did not vote for a public path which entered the farm park. He was clearly mis-led on March 1st, 2006 by the Council's totally inadequate map. How many other councillors whom I have not spoken to were mis-led in the same way?
The inspector, Mr Alan Blackley, was only chosen four days before the inquiry, when the previously chosen inspector, who had studied the documents for weeks, dropped out “because he was moving house”. How could the new inspector absorb all the information properly in such a short time?
Opposite the main entrance at point ‘P’ on ‘Map 2’, is a very overgrown bridle path, which exits onto the road at point ‘X’. This is the old Gwbert to Cardigan road, used for centuries before the current riverside road was built after the First World War. That bridle way, from point ‘X’, is on the council’s Definitive Map, so it is illegally blocked. The reason is that is crosses Cardigan Golf Course! My father and grandfather used that bridle way to travel to Cardigan by pony and trap.
In the inquiry, the golf club chairman said that it had not been used for years. How could it be used? It has been illegally blocked for decades, and the council has done nothing about it! Unbelievably, the inspector remarked, in his findings, that it would be better to keep it shut, when he had no right to pass judgment on it at all. He ignored the legal presence of the bridle way on the Definitive Map! He even remarked that the golf club was important for local tourism. It certainly is, but what about the farm park? Is that not important for the local economy and tourism? In fact we bring many customers to the golf club.
During the hearing, the inspector, a Scotsman, had mentioned that he was both a keen walker and a golfer!!?? One thing he had never done was run a business. He was formerly in the RAF.
The inspector claims that a "sturdy fence " ONE METRE HIGH erected between Point L and Point K is the solution to prevent trespass into the farm park. He forgets that there has to be a farm gate at Point L to allow farm access into the whole of Crug's 140 acres [our land], from Clyn-yr-ynys's 217 acres. Trespassers can easily climb over a farm gate. However, since ourselves, farm contractors and other farmers are continually passing through that gate throughout the year, especially during the busy Spring to Autumn period, we cannot even keep that gate locked. Do we issue all and sundry with keys?
Does the inspector think that contractors will even get off a tractor to CLOSE a gate when they are rushing to and fro, every 10 minutes, with ploughs, rotovators, seed drills, sprayers, silage trailers, combine harvesters or loads of cereals? These people work flat out from dawn to dusk to catch good weather. They do not have time to open and shut gates. But even a closed, unlocked gate is no barrier! Obviously!!!
Furthermore, I explained to the inspector that the ONLY access track between our Clyn-yr-ynys farm yard and Crug farm land is at this point. The ONLY GATE between the two farms is ten yards away from Point L. So that gate is also kept unlocked and frequently wide open. I also explained that it must be kept open for weeks on end, at times, for our farm stock to access fresh water in Clyn-yr-ynys. Water dries up in half of Crug every summer. One of the council's footpath officers had previously suggested that sheep could drink sea-water!!??
This second gate links up parts of the farm park, so we also need to pass through with our tractor and trailer taxi service for visitors.
Preventing trespass and unauthorised entry around Point L is totally impossible and obvious to anyone with a grain of common-sense, so why has the inspector not realised it and mentioned my arguments?
Again, the hedge-bank running down to Point L, at right-angles to the coast, will have the path running on its eastern side. There is only a two feet high sheep fence on top of that bank, so what physical barrier is there to prevent human, illegal access into the farm park anywhere along its length? Again, the inspector does not address this most obvious of practical points. Yet he claims that we will not suffer financial loss!!?
Our tractor and trailer taxi enables people with walking disabilities, especially those in wheel-chairs, to access the coast-line and enjoy the wild-life. What provision has Ceredigion County Council made for disabled people along this part of the Ceredigion Coastal Path? Is there wheel-chair access? Will the visually impaired be safe on unfenced cliffs? Will anyone walking dogs along the public path be safe from our cattle when they have new-born calves? A woman with a dog was unfortunately trampled to death by a herd of cows with calves on the Pembrokeshire Path last year. There have been many such incidents in the UK in recent years. Am I not going to be allowed to graze cows in my own farm and farm park? Some of our cows are Longhorns [see photographs] with horns two feet long. Who provides the insurance for these people?
The inspector and the council, are clearly inviting free entry into our farm park and consequently ruining our tourism business, which has taken us 15 years of hard work to get to this stage.
My wife, Ellen, and myself both work seven days a week from around March 20th to November 1st each year, without a SINGLE day off.
I am 60 years of age and Ellen is 59. She has health problems, unfortunately. The severe stress brought on us by the council’s iniquitous actions are exacerbating her health problems. She often starts work at 6am and is doing the books until 11pm. We work 80 to 110 hours a week, every week!
The public inquiry has cost us £15,000 in legal fees, so we ended up working 6 months for nothing in 2006!
If the council does not see sense and by-pass our farm park by a mere 0.6 miles, along the Gwbert to Ferwig road, thereby linking up with the existing bridle path through Nant-y-Croi to Mwnt, we intend to borrow up to £250,000 against the value of the farm to fight Ceredigion County Council in the High Court! If that fails then we are taking the case to the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg.
It is patently obvious that it will be impossible for us to run our business successfully if that public path comes into existence.
Ceredigion County Council have not followed the coast at the Qinetiq Defence Establishment at nearby Aberporth, nor even at Patch Caravan Site on the Gwbert/Cardigan road. The path follows the B4548 from the Teifi Boating Club on the estuary, instead of the on the coast. It does so right to our entrance. So why can’t it continue on that road for a further 0.6 miles? That is one percent of the 63 miles from Cardigan to Borth.
Then this county could have both the Ceredigion Coast Path and Cardigan Island Coastal Farm Park as tourism enterprises.
If the path is installed, our farm stock will be chased over unfenced cliffs between point ‘C’ and point ‘F’, as hundreds of trespassers, with dogs, cross all of our farm and farm park fields. The inspector knew nothing of farming problems on the coast.
We used to lose, on average, six sheep a year over the cliffs, before we safely fenced from point ‘A’ to point ‘C’ in 1992. My uncle, Dai Jenkins, once climbed a vertical 100ft cliff to rescue a lamb, when he was 74 years of age. He only had a rope knotted around his chest. The lamb had been chased over by a visitor’s dog.
There are plenty of examples around the UK of coastal paths leaving the coast:-
a] The Pembrokeshire Coast Path follows a road 300 feet above sea level and 500 yards inland, between Poppit Sands and Cemaes Head, opposite our farm park, across the Teifi Estuary.
b] 31 miles of the 125 mile long Anglesey Coast Path, opened in August 2006 by Mr Rhodri Morgan, First Minister for Wales, is inland from the coast. It circumvents the National Trust’s Plas Newydd Gardens on the Menai Straits, because the N.T. charges entry.
c] The iconic Italianate village and major tourist attraction of Portmeirion, Gwynedd, on the Dwyryd Estuary.
d] The Wetland and Wildlife Trust’s (WWT) Bird Sanctuary at Penclacwydd, Llanelli, Carmarthenshire.
e] The WWT’s site at Slimbridge, Glos.
f] Abbotsbury Swannery in Dorset, owned by multi-millionairess, Lady Charlotte Townshend, who is also the High Sheriff of Dorset. She is worth at least £370 million according to the Sunday Times Rich List. The South West Coast Path cuts inland to avoid the fee-charging swannery. I wonder why?
g. Tintagel Castle, Cornwall, owned by Prince Charles’s Duchy of Cornwall and managed by “English Heritage”, who charge an entry fee to the headland which is home to the castle.
Note how “important” these people and organisations are!!
I know of no other council apart from Ceredigion, that has used Section 26 of the Highways Act 1980 to enter a fee-charging coastal tourist attraction, by creating a public path along the coast. Tourist attractions have been avoided in each case. They are very important for local economies. In fact, we attracted 26,000 visitors into Cardigan Town in 2006. Can the businesses Cardigan Town afford to lose those visitors? How many people will be thrown out of work in Cardigan if our farm park is forced to close?
The situation is iniquitous and totally unique to my knowledge!!
If you agree with us and want to support us in our fight, please sign the petition individually (not as families), because every signature counts as one vote. If this path is created, the chaos will cause us to close down the tourism business. Our car parks will become dangerous as hundreds of freebie-seeking path users drive around searching for parking. The unnecessary wear and tear on our road will be very costly. Who will pay for that? Not the council!
If you feel strongly enough to write to local newspapers in support of our case, here are some addresses:
1. Cardigan and Tivy-side Advertiser, St Mary Street, Cardigan.
2. Carmarthen Journal, 18 King Street, Carmarthen SA31 1BN.
3. Cambrian News, 7 Aberystwyth Science Park, Aberystwyth, SY23 3AH.
4. Western Mail, Thomson House, Havelock St, Cardiff.
The address of Ceredigion County Council is:
Ms Bronwen Morgan
Ceredigion County Council
Tel: 01545 570 881
FAX: 01545 572 117
We have been hounded by this council for six years in total on this footpath issue, after they gave us planning permission for the farm park in 1992 and agreed that there was no public path on our property in 1997/99 at both Council and Welsh Office level.
This matter is now urgent.
Please sign our petition.
Thank you for your indulgence and your assistance!
We hope you enjoy your holidays in west Wales.
Lyn James Jenkins (Mr)
Link to sign the petition online - Sign Here (link opens in new window)
This petition can also be signed at Cardigan Island Coastal Farm Park Visitor Centre.