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Tuesday, 25 January, 2000, 13:27 GMT
Union chief welcomes farmer's victory

Ruling on competing demands for land


The President of the Ulster Farmers' Union has welcomed a High Court judgement against a compulsory state purchase of farmland for industrial purposes.

The comments by farmers' leader Will Taylor came after dairy farmer Drew Cowan, from Cascum Road, Banbridge, County Down, won an order blocking the vesting of 48 acres of his 78-acre farm.

Mr Taylor described the judgement as a "landmark decision" which would help farmers in future when government agencies tried to put them off their lands.

The land had been vested by the Department of Economic Development, now the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Investment, for an industrial estate promoted by the Industrial Development Board (IDB).

Reserved judgement

Tuesday's reserved judgement by Mr Justice Girvan means that in future, bodies such as the IDB will find it more difficult to vest land without holding a public local inquiry where objections have been lodged.


Will Taylor: Hailed ruling as 'landmark' victory
The judge said: "Since the department failed to properly consider the question whether a local inquiry should be held and since that failure substantially prejudiced the applicant, the vesting order cannot stand."

He ordered the department to pay Mr Cowan's legal costs.

Outside the court Mr Cowan said: "I am delighted the IDB can't come in and walk over you and say they want your land and you have to get out."

He said the farm had been in his family since 1862 and it would have been heartbreaking to have to move out as farming would not have been viable on the remaining 30 acres.

Mr Cowan said: "It would have meant the end of me as a farmer on land that's been in the family for well over 100 years.

"Financial compensation would have been of no use as finding another farm for my herd of 120 dairy cows would have been impossible."

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