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Pond leads to troubled waters for farmer

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It was meant to be a project that gave back to nature by creating a tranquil pond in his garden.But a West Norfolk farmer has managed to dig himself into deep water after his pond left him embroiled in a “frustrating” planning row.Brian Rivett, a keen gardener, built a 38m long and 25m wide pond within the grounds of his home in Boughton. At its deepest point, it is about 1.5m, while closer to the edge it is shallower.He began the project in 2022 and two years later plants and wildlife has started to flourish.However, last December, his excavation was reported to West Norfolk Council, which then launched an investigation to see if enforcement action was necessary. The 68-year-old said: “This is a time in my life that I want to be putting into the garden but instead I’m spending it jumping through hoops with the council.“As a farmer, in the past we used chemicals which we now know are harmful to the environment. It is my attempt at giving something back to nature and also creating something nice in my garden.“The council is meant to be proactive in encouraging nature conservation, this all feels unnecessary.” Mr Rivett moved into the property with his wife in 2007. They have since been slowly creating their dream garden.The pond, which is about 950 square metres, was mostly dug by himself and is home to bugs and a family of ducks which have returned for two years. The previous owners had built a tennis court there but this was removed to make way for the pond, the water system for which is self-sufficient being powered by solar and wind energy.Planning regulations say ponds are considered “permitted developments” depending on the scale of the water feature.A spokesperson for the borough council said: “Mr Rivett needs planning permission because of the scale of the excavation; technically it is considered to be operational development. Some changes, even if in someone’s garden, are likely to need permission if of sufficient size.”Mr Rivett feels planning officers were “unnecessarily suspicious” when they inspected his property. And he claims he has been given conflicting advice during his communications with the council, adding further confusion as to what is the best course of action to gain approval for his pond.However, the council has said it is keen to work “proactively” with Mr Rivett to bring the matter to a close. The spokesperson added: “We can confirm that no enforcement notice has been served and we appreciate that an application has been made to regularise the situation.“We will work proactively with Mr Rivett to move this matter forward.”

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