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English Couple Lose Battle Over Duck Farm

Tuesday 16 March 2010

An English couple who complained that a duck farm near their French home was making their life a misery have failed in their attempt to close down the farm.

Derek and Amanda Forbes relocated from the UK to the Lot-et-Garonne six years ago and for several years enjoyed the peaceful lifestyle that brought them to France in the first place.

However, in 2006, a neighbouring farmer erected three duck houses on land previously used mainly for growing maize. The duck houses were a little over 300 metres away from their own property.

‘In our time here we have learned to accept all the different fragrances the French countryside has to offer, but those that emanate from the duck farm are well in excess of what we feel is reasonable.’

‘It has been particularly difficult during the summer months, when we were obviously spending a lot more time in our garden and when family and friends were visiting.’

‘The farmer is a genial enough fellow, but he seems oblivious to the difficulties that he has been causing his us’, they stated.

In the end the couple felt obliged to seek legal advice concerning the farm, and brought an action in the French courts to stop the nuisance.

Unfortunately for them the evidence presented to the court did not substantiate their case.

The court appointed expert considered that the smells emanating from the farm were occasional and not excessive, and that the farm was being managed in conformity with relevant regulations and best practice.

Neither did it help their case that other neighbours who ran a nearby chambre d'hôte (and which also had the Gîte de France quality label) did not consider that the occasional smells were offensive.

The Forbes claim that the fact they relocated from a major city in the UK did not make them particularly sensitive to the problem, but that locals simply showed a far greater tolerance of the duck farm.

‘The fact that a large number of our neighbours are themselves directly or indirectly associated with farming has meant they are instinctively supportive of the farm’, claim the couple.

The farmer was also able to demonstrate that prior to the installation of the duck farm he kept a small number of pigs, which predated the arrival of the couple in their property.

The court considered that the installation of the duck farm was merely a continuation of the agricultural activities undertaken by the farmer and that no new nuisance was being created.

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