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Thursday, 30 January, 2003, 20:32 GMT
Eco-burial woman claims squatters' rights
Map graphic
A Somerset woman who buried bodies in a piece of disputed garden claimed by her neighbours wants squatters' rights on the land.

Barbara Butler buried four people, including two children, and several animals in unmarked graves on disputed land at Watchet as part of her business, Green Undertakings.

Her neighbours, Richard and Rosemary Rutter, discovered the bodies - which have since been exhumed and re-buried - in 1999.

But now Mrs Butler wants the Land Registry to award squatters' rights over parts of the land, based on her former use of it.

Barbara Butler
Barbara Butler made the burials over two years

The families of those buried in the eco-graves say they were barred from visting the graves because of the dispute.

Barry Hughes, whose father was buried on the land, said: "We were told we were trespassing, which totally floored us.

"There was no access and it was awful."

Mr and Mrs Rutter of Brendon Road, Watchet, say they had no idea their neighbour had used the land for the eco-burials for two years.

Planning permission

They say they were 'horrified' when they made the discovery in a corner of what they claim is their garden.

A land tribunal in Plymouth is ruling on the case after the local council intervened, saying Mrs Butler needed planning permission for the burials.

The case may be one of the last of its kind in Britain as new legislation due to take effect later this year will make squatters' claims much more difficult.


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See also:

09 Nov 02 | England
04 Feb 03 | England
10 Feb 99 | UK
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