Letter received by PORE in support of Gwyn Jones, the farm manager who resigned.

PORE have received the following letter, which readers will find interesting. At the end of the letter you will find another post regarding parking for Tuesday.

As someone who has grown up around Crouchland Farm in Plaistow for the last 55 years or so, I feel compelled to write this letter to correct some of the factual inaccuracies in statements made by Crouchlands Biogas Ltd., in particular some that have been reported in local newspapers.

 I knew William Luttman-Johnsons Grandfather; he let me shoot over Crouchlands land in the mid 60’s. It was wet, boggy, infertile and overgrown. The Luttman-Johnson family may have owned the land for 250 years but they never farmed it themselves, it was let. There have not been cows at Crouchlands for the last 50 years, and Crouchlands Biogas has not been farming the land for 100 years, the real farming started about 35 years ago. They have been there for a very short time. Judging by the pictures members of the public have posted on the public websites during that time, their tenure has not been for the better.

As for reference to the Dairy Crisis, you may have seen the television program Countryfile on Sunday evening 22 February, when they discussed the subject in some detail. It is true some smaller farms who belong to

co-operatives and similar schemes are in crisis because they only get 23-27pence per litre for milk, and don’t have the clout to fight their corner, whereas the big producers get between 30-35 pence per litre from the likes of Sainsburys.  As the farm manager, Gwyn Jones, reported in his weekly newspaper column in the West Sussex Gazette around February 2010, he had negotiated a milk contract with Sainsburys, one of the best contracts available, so Crouchlands Farm dairy element is completely shielded at that price from the current market volatility if they are doing the job properly, and from what I have heard, if the same cowman is there, I have every confidence he is still doing the job very well.

 It would appear there is another common misconception; in the last 2 weeks there has been a lot of discussion about Crouchlands amongst local people; in conversation, two different people have expressed concern about the unlawful commercial development and have made reference to the farm manager of some 35 years at Crouchlands; in essence that this commercial development and the damage to our whole area and way of life is all down to one person, the previous farm manager Gwyn Jones, who then just walked away and left us with it.

 This is absolutely untrue. Those who know this man at all will agree that not only is he a very good farm manager, he is a very well respected professional in the farming community and represents the interests of the farming community at very senior levels in the UK and abroad.

If you are a follower of Gwyn Jones’ weekly news column, you can see the modest AD plant from inception around 2006 to going into action producing electricity in 2010. It was a good strategy, incorporating money earning diversification with disposal of on-farm waste in accordance with Government legislation.  It was a proper professional job well planned and the community supported the project as sound management of on farm waste.

 Whilst he was involved in setting up this AD facility in his capacity as manager of the farm, Mr Jones did not condone the activities and practices of the management of the newly formed Crouchlands Biogas Ltd who were given control of the farm by Mr Willliam Luttman-Johnson. Most of the recent history of the retrospective planning is common knowledge, with all the food waste and the general desecration of the farm, to the point where Mr Jones resigned in about May 2014 to protect his professional reputation and because he could not accept, nor did he agree with, many of the actions of the new management; he did not retire as has been widely circulated, he resigned.

So next time you hear someone saying it was he who caused all this trouble, ask yourself who personally had the most to lose in all this. Only a man of considerable integrity would give up 35 years work making Crouchlands land productive and with a first class herd, rather than be part of something that was not being done properly and without proper planning permission.

 As for the future of the farm, the dairy is just a front for the industrial project. If the planning is approved, it won’t be long before the dairy herd disappears in my view, selling off the herd for £200,000 - £300,000 would be tempting, think how many more personalised number plates you could buy with that to put on your lorry fleet.

 The Luttman-Johnson family name has, I believe, been well respected in this area for generations, but sadly William Luttman-Johnson has changed all that by letting this all happen on the family land and being a part of this group of investors who care nothing for the countryside that we all cherish, that is blatantly obvious. Just look around Crouchlands and read the local press.  So William hides away in Suffolk, well away from all the trucks, the dust, the noise, the lights - and on a bad day - the smell, oh the smell.    Shame on you.