A leading agricultural lawyer has warned the country’s farmers to be ‘vigilant’ over the extended Diamond Jubilee bank holiday – a time when she says travellers will be looking to illegally occupy land whilst courts are closed.
The alert comes from rural specialist Kirsten Bridgewater who has called on farmers to be on their guard during the Jubilee holiday which will see court doors closed on Monday 5thand Tuesday 6th June. It’s a time, she believes, in which travellers are ‘almost certain’ to take advantage of and trespass on land they do not have authorisation to camp on.
Ms Bridgewater says it’s a known fact amongst travellers that, unless they volunteer to vacate land, it is costly and time consuming for landowners and farmers to begin eviction proceedings.
Ms Bridgewater, a partner at Midland law firm MFG Solicitors commented: “For the majority of people the Diamond Jubilee holiday will be a time to celebrate and take a welcome break. But it is also a weekend when all farmers must be on their guard against groups of travellers who are intent on playing by a very different set of rules.
“Specific groups within the travelling community are well aware of the legislation surrounding illegal trespassing. But they are also fully switched on to the fact that when courts are closed, that buys them vital time to remain on land as it takes much effort to evict them, their vehicles and their animals.
“Travellers know only too well the eviction process takes a matter of weeks, not days, especially if they take over land during a holiday. This is because court dates need to be confirmed and possibly, a bailiff appointed. It’s a frustrating time for farmers as they are basically powerless until the court process is concluded and the possession date agreed. I am certain no farmer wants to be in that position so vigilance is vital.”
She continued; “More landowners, process servers and local authorities are now working together to accelerate the eviction process and challenge those who wreak havoc across rural communities. It’s a drive which must continue.
“Farmers must not let their guard down in the weeks ahead and should make every effort to secure any weak spots around their land.”
Ms Bridgewater, who is a member of the Agricultural Law Association, added any farmers who find travellers or their animals to be trespassing on their land should act fast and seek prompt legal advice to understand their rights and the correct legal procedures.