Suffolk farm wins high court battle

The owners of Suffolk's Elveden Estate have won a high court battle against the creation of a byway through one of their arable fields.

This would have been open to all traffic and up to three metres wide.

In a decision made yesterday however, the high court quashed the an inspector's decision to approve the byway.

The row began in November 2010 when a Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) inspector confirmed an order approving the byway open to all traffic (BOAT) which is believed to be part of a long lost part of the historic route known as the Icknield Way, which runs all the way from the Chilterns to East Anglia.

However, the owners of the Elveden Farm Estate, near Thetford, objected to the BOAT, which was proposed to run from the B1106 between Shelterhouse Corner and Barrow's Corner across one of their arable fields.

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They claimed that there was no trace of the old highway on that route for a hundred years, and that there was no way of knowing its exact location with any degree of certainty.

They continued that the inspector was wrong to modify the route put forward by Suffolk County Council, which varied between one and two metres wide the whole way, to one which varied between 10 metres and 43 metres wide for most of the way.

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Now High Court judge Mr Justice Charles has quashed the inspector's decision, ruling that he failed adequately to explain his reasons for confirming the Suffolk County Council Modification Order 2008 in the way that he did.

The matter will now have to be reconsidered by another inspector, which will give Elveden Farms another opportunity to put forward its objections to making the order at all.

Suffolk County Council initially declined to make the order, on an application brought by a Mr J Andrews, but it was directed to do so by the secretary of state for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs. Once made, it fell to the inspector to decide whether the order should be confirmed.

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