A FARMING couple left unable to carry out heavy labour after being injured in incidents involving their deer and cattle livestock have won their fight to build housing for extra workers.

Sheila Crerar and her husband run Newmains Farm, near Dunbar, which has 300 deer and more than 120 cattle.

An application to East Lothian Council to let them build two new homes on the land, so that they could bring extra help in, was refused after planners ruled that one extra house was enough.

Now the couple have won the right to build the second home after the council’s local review body overturned the planners' decision and fellow farmer Councillor Donna Collins told fellow members that working with deer could be "extremely dangerous".

Councillor Collins said that the size of the farm and its livestock did require additional workers, estimating it needed 4.2 staff.

She told the review body: “Working with deer is extremely dangerous, especially stags because they are so unpredictable, and cattle can be dangerous as well.”

East Lothian Courier: Working with deer can be dangerous, councillors heard. Image: East Lothian Council planning portalWorking with deer can be dangerous, councillors heard. Image: East Lothian Council planning portal

The review body was told that the couple, who have lived in their farmhouse next to the land for more than 20 years, were “not fully physically active farmers due to past injuries and bad experiences with cattle and deer”.

In an appeal statement, their agents said: “As such, whilst remaining fully committed to the farm business, they can only undertake a restricted range of duties on the farms and cannot participate in the heavy manual work on the farm.

“The advice from their agricultural advisor is that a hands-on farm manager, working with an additional farm labourer, are required to assist and undertake all manual duties.”

Planners gave the go-ahead for one farm cottage to be built on the land but an application for a second one, 3km away on the other side of the farm, was refused.

Planners said that their experts estimated they already had ample housing for extra farm workers, suggesting that the couple could move out of their own farmhouse and find alternative accommodation.

However, at the review body meeting, Councillor Collins said that the second worker's cottage was justified and pointed to recent weather as an example of the value of having labourers onsite.

She said: “They are at the foot of the Lammermuirs and the past week has demonstrated why you need people there. If we have snow, they need to be able to get to these beasts and take care of them.

“This application fits policy for agriculture and it is employing people in the local area.”

The review body approved the application for a second worker's cottage, on the condition it was tied to the farm land and could not be sold separately.