A FARMER embroiled in a seven-year dispute with the county council, and who refuses to pay a crown court fine of £800, says his “bags are packed” and he fully expects to be jailed on Wednesday.
Eddie McIntosh, who owns Mellowcroft, a smallholding in Llandegley, near Llandrindod Wells, is due before magistrates in the Radnorshire town on December 2 for failure to pay a fine as a result of a 2019 crown court conviction. Mr McIntosh was found guilty after trial of 18 charges of breaking planning laws by failing to comply with planning enforcement notices served on him by Powys County Council.
Mr McIntosh was convicted at Merthyr Tydfil Crown Court in February 2019 and ordered to pay £850 within 12 months or face 28 days in prison.
But he refuses to pay the fine. Having subsequently received retrospective planning permission for five structures for agricultural purposes on the property in July 2019 and seeing a further application to convert and change the use of a welfare cabin into a rural enterprise dwelling ratified in January of this year, Mr McIntosh claims these actions annul the original offence, and should mean his fines are quashed.
“I’m fully expecting to be jailed on Wednesday and my bags are packed,” Mr McIntosh told the County Times on the eve of his case on Tuesday.
“I don’t want to go to prison but it’s the principal of the thing. I’ve tried to stand my ground from the start and I’m fully prepared to stand up for what I believe in.”
The case has resulted in mammoth ramifications for both sides – costing the county council more than £60,000 in legal fees and enforcement action, while it has cost Mr McIntosh his marriage and his health, as he now suffers with chronic lung disease.
The tree house folly built solely from recycled/donated materials on Mr McIntosh’s premises.
But the 54-year-old refuses to back down, adding: “I’m divorced from my wife, this put an incredible amount of pressure on us, it financially stripped us, but I couldn’t walk away, it made me sick.
“I know that prison will cost the taxpayer even more money, and I regret this. But I cannot morally condone the fine and accept criminal charges. And if standing up for what is right means going to prison, I’ll face the consequences.”
Eco-entrepreneur Mr McIntosh bought Mellowcroft, a smallholding formerly known as Rowton Farm, via auction in 2006, following on from a documentary programme he had been part of which restored derelict properties.
He planned to restore the property and transform it into a natural holistic retreat – initially making changes such as building a recycling point, a firepit and a pallet footbridge across a ditch.
The council served its first enforcement notice on the landowner in December 2013 while at a 2015 public inquiry, the planning inspectorate reached a split decision on Mellowcroft’s 18 alleged breaches of planning – which included a compost loo, wooden stock fencing and a wind turbine the size of a Range Rover wheel.
In January 2016, Mr McIntosh was told the site could be used for agricultural purposes but the inspectorate ruled the development did not have permission for recreational use, including use as a retreat, or for residential purposes.
His 2019 trial heard the defendant had built wooden structures to create a rural retreat at Mellowcroft which did not have planning permission. He also did not have planning permission to live at the site and use it for residential purposes.
The court heard he continued to defy the planning inspector’s ruling and the two enforcement notices by continuing to use Mellowcroft as his residence and remove a motor home and the various wooden structures he had built.