MP condemns rock attack on farmer

Sunday 15th May 2022 6:00 am
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Ian Liddell-Grainger

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A ROW with a dog-walker over the route of a footpath, which resulted in a 70-year-old Somerset farmer being hospitalised after he was struck by a rock, was this week condemned as “utterly outrageous” by local MP Ian Liddell-Grainger.

Christopher Pine said he was working in a field near Taunton last Saturday when a dog walker accused him of ploughing up a footpath. Mr Pine said that when he tried to explain the rights of access across his land he was almost knocked unconscious by a thrown rock.

Mr Pine was taken to A&E for stitches in the wound. The alleged assailant has been described as in his mid-30s with balding dark hair, slight build and wearing shorts. He was walking with a grey Staffordshire terrier.

Mr Pine’s wife, Jane, said that her husband was told: “Don’t plough the footpath, which of course he wasn’t. He does everything 100 per cent correctly. We rent the field so you’re even more careful with what you do.”

Mr Liddell-Grainger (pictured) told the Free Press that the walker needed to be traced and brought to justice.

“It is utterly outrageous that a farmer cannot go about his lawful business without being assaulted like this,” he said.

Mr Liddell-Grainger added that a “growing clamour” for more land to be opened up for access was creating an ugly anti-farmer mood among some groups of walkers.

“The fact is we already have plenty of public access in this country: in England and Wales there are 140,000 miles of footpaths, bridleways and other types of byways.

“Natural England has spent at least £50 million creating a footpath - complete with ‘spreading room’ for picnics and ball games, if desired - around the coast.

“It would be ludicrous to open up all farmland. Farming is a dangerous business which often involves the use of heavy machinery, livestock need to be left in tranquil surroundings and crops need to be able to grow untrampled by passing feet.

“There would be utter chaos if we simply told people they could go anywhere they liked. Farming would become impossible, and food production would be decimated.

“The government needs to drive home that message - along with the warning that attacks on farmers will be dealt with very severely indeed in the courts.”

An Avon and Somerset police spokesman said this week that anyone with information about the incident should call on telephone number 101.

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