New plan for farm access

Sunday 28th November 2021 12:00 pm
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A ‘corridor’ of elm trees in St Mark’s ()

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A revised planning application (21/01289/B) has been submitted to create improved access to Ballavarvane Farm in St Mark’s.

The new application doesn’t involve the cutting down of any trees from the ’tunnel’ of elms lining the road which people had protested to protect.

Widespread uproar and a petition of more than 67,000 signatures was sparked by a previously approved application (20/01215/B) which would have involved the felling of 25 elm trees on the A26 (Braaid) road near one of the farm’s entrances.

A planning statement accompanying the new application said that it was being submitted in response to the ’significant media attention’ and concerns caused by the original application, which was approved in June.

This new application came out of a solution found between the owner of Ballavarvane Farm, former environment Minister Geoffrey Boot and former planning committee chair Martyn Perkins.

The new proposal is to instead improve an alternative pair of existing entrances approximately 400m to the north-east of the end of the elm tunnel.

Pre-application consultations were undertaken with several officers from the Department of Environment, Food and Agriculture.

Leigh Morris of Manx Wildlife Trust, who were part of the opposition to the first application, said that the new proposal was ’much improved’ and that he was ’encouraged that an alternative solution had been found’.

However, when draft proposals were submitted to Manx Woodland Trust, it declined to comment, saying that ’we take a neutral stance in respect of the proposed alternative entrance’.

The tenant farmers at Ballavarvane explained the need for better access to the farm.

’With traffic travelling at speed and often overtaking, trying to get in or out of one of the fields or the existing farm lane is honestly quite terrifying especially with a tractor and trailer or other slow moving agricultural machinery,’ said farmer Ashley Kinvig.

He added: ’Having to get out of the tractor to open a gate into any of the fields adjacent to the A26 is even more of a concern, so consequently we often have to leave the gates open to reduce the risk of getting run over.’

Manx Wild Bird Aid, which the farm allowed to set up five aviaries on its land (housing around 60 birds), also commented on the application as their volunteers routinely navigate the road to visit Ballavarvane and provide care to the birds.

’Although there is a 50mph speed limit, the long straight road to the farm, with no obvious side roads, seems to entice drivers to vastly exceed this limit, often seeming to be travelling well in excess of 80mph,’ said Barbara Cole of MWBA.

’Exiting the property is very scary [in a vehicle]’.

She added: ’When new volunteers go to the farm, we make it a point to warn them of the danger.

’The situation is really dangerous and we do hope that we can all soon benefit from a safer exit.’

She also noted that she had seen several free-range chickens killed crossing the road, and understood that a neighbour’s dog had been killed after being hit there too.

As evidence supplied with the new application, there is data which shows that a total of 85 collision and traffic incidents occurred along the stretch of Braaid Road since 2012.

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