Farmers looking to take advantage of the Government’s relaxed rules on rural housing have been urged to take a second look at the electricity supply in their area.
Livestock farmer Lisa Wain, who farms in Ilam, Dovedale, in the Peak District National Park, said three years of living off a diesel generator had put ‘immense pressure’ on the farm’s finances – and she feared other farmers could face the same.
She is on one of four new farms in the area struggling to get a mains electricity supply to their new holdings.
It came as rules on rural housing were continuing to be relaxed, with Housing Minister Dominic Raab announcing back in March that councils would be able to permit developments of up to five homes on former agricultural sites – instead of the previous three.
Ms Wain said: “I am concerned when we hear planning is being relaxed to allow more local people to live in rural areas that there may be more people like us who are able to build a house but are unable to get electricity to it.”
After being evicted from their yearly tenancy with just six weeks’ notice in February 2016, the family put in a planning application for a house on land they had previously purchased – with acceptance granted on an agricultural need.
Ms Wain then applied for a new electricity connection later that year – and again with Western Power Distribution in June 2017 – but, after being told it would take only three months to sort out, is still waiting.
The Peak District National Park refused a pole-mounted transformer, so the route is now likely to run cables underground adjacent to an ancient scheduled monument, which requires archaeologists on site.
“We are not sure yet how much this is going to cost us,” Ms Wain added. “I did try to get a farm productivity grant but apparently electricity is not grantable.
“I later found out another farm had been given a 40 per cent grant towards theirs.
“At the moment it looks like we will be lucky if we get electricity in the next six months.”
Western Power Distribution said it was unable to start connections work until the agreement of legal permissions of two third party landowners to lay the electricity cables on their land was approved by solicitors.
A spokesman said: “We will always provide an electricity connection to anyone that requests it, however the costs associated with the provision of the supply will be passed on to the customer.”