A farmer who is at the centre of a row about planning permission granted for a new house in a Cornish beauty spot has explained why the development is so important to him.

Chris Wilton was granted planning permission by Cornwall Council to build his new house on land at Rame Head in the summer.

However the decision resulted in objectors campaigning against the decision and calling for a judicial review. Objectors say that as the site is in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) it is unsuitable for development.

Now Mr Wilton has spoken out about why his new home is so important to his family and for farming and conservation.

The new house would be used by Mr Wilton and his family, who have had to live in a mobile home.

Explaining his family’s history with the farm he said: “I am 46 and have worked Penmillard with my father since I returned from managing farms up country in 2001, after completing university in 1997.

“My family have run Penmillard for over 200 years, and I am the sixth generation to do so. The farm used to be a dairy farm, but since I returned home we decided to go less intensive by closing down the dairy enterprise, and concentrate on crops, and equines.”

He explained that he had worked with the RSPB since 2002 to help with a project to encourage breeding of cirl buntings.

This has led to the farmer doing work in maintaining wildlife habitats around the farm for the benefit of various species, including Dartmoor ponies.

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He said: “We maintain a large number of wildlife habitats for the Cirl buntings, along with other wildlife habitats that under intensive farming would simply not be possible. We have wildlife margins, extensively (not intensively) cut hedgerows and an extremely sensitively managed Rame Head, which over the last 15 years has seen the gorse and bracken being pushed back, keeping Rame Head much more open, by using mechanical cutting where possible and the breeding herd of Pedigree Dartmoor ponies, which are also an at risk breed, to access and manage the other areas. The Dartmoor ponies take constant care and attention, usually when injured or trapped, but also when the mares are foaling.”

Turning to the issue with the house he explained: “The farm always used to have a cottage, but since the estate took it back in hand in 1997, I had to live in a mobile home from 2001. I was lucky enough to succeed the farm tenancy as joint tenant with my father in 2015, and in 2018 my second child was born, and the mobile home was no longer suitable for permanent accommodation, for a family of four.

“Our new home is extremely important, It will be the first time in 200 years that we, as a farming family, own our own home, but also without it, a lot of the environmental work I have done, with my father, will be lost.

“To move away from the farm will cost, in terms of money, travelling, fuel (climate change impact), just getting to and fro, not to mention the huge loss will be the Dartmoors on Rame Head in particular. They require me to be on call at any time to deal with emergencies, and if my family are living miles away, keeping them will simply not be an option.

“To pay the increased costs of living away from the farm will also mean the farm has to become much more intensive, losing the environmental margins, cutting the hedges annually to keep the growth out of the crops (which currently is where the margins are).”

Mr Wilton said that he bought the land where the new house will be built from Cornwall Council as it is located on the farm site and is the first land to be made available for some time.

The farmer said that those objecting could “destroy” decades of environmental work.

He added: “My family and I do not shout about the environmental work we do, as we don’t really feel it is necessary, we do it because we like nature, not because we seek kudos or recognition.

“I fail to see how the objections relating to impact stack up at all, given the house will sit lower than the existing coastguard cottages, as it is dug into the ground, and will be screened by mature trees to the west and the east, when they are planted.”