A WEST Dorset farm is expected be bought by Dorset Council – adjacent to one of the county’s main nature reserves.

If the sale goes ahead the council will use the land, by farming it in a different way, to help reduce nutrients flowing from the area into watercourses which eventually lead to Poole Harbour.

Money from a £4.63million Government eco grant will be used towards the purchase of Middle Farm at Higher Kingcombe.

The council has not disclosed whether the cost of the farm is higher, or lower, than this amount.

The initial decision to proceed with the purchase was taken by the previous, Conservative, administration at County Hall, but is continuing under the Lib Dem majority, which took control of the council in May.

Said a Dorset Council statement confirming the intention to buy the farm: “The land is ideally located to deliver both nutrient reduction and nature recovery in the headwaters of the River Hooke.

"It is currently farmed as part of a business but is not ideal for a dairy farm as it is managed intensively and suffers from run-off and soil erosion. Changing its use to woodland or rewilding can reduce nitrates as required and could be achieved with little investment.

“Details are still to be confirmed, but Natural England are in support of the proposals, and positive discussions have also taken place with Dorset Wildlife Trust who manage the adjacent land within Kingcombe National Nature Reserve.”

(Image: Newsquest)

The authority say that because of ‘commercial sensitivities’ it is unable to disclose the likely cost.

In 2010 the Wallbridge family, at the time farming 400 cattle on almost 500 acres at Middle Farm, appealed a West Dorset District Council planning decision to refuse permission for another home on the property for a grandson – to avoid a daily commute from Bridport for early morning milking.

Six years later the council approved an application to change the use of a former milking parlour on the farm from agricultural to residential.

Other changes to the farm over the years have included permission to build a 950 square metre in-ground slurry lagoon, granted in 2011, when at the time the farm had 110 milking cows and followers.