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Sunday, July 10, 2011

Couple moves 'off-grid,' green police force them back and order them to get on welfare

Injunction to move by the end the of month
Mid Devon Gazette

A COUPLE living an "off-grid" lifestyle say they face prison unless they move from their own land in Willand and return to an existence in the benefits trap.

Stig and Dinah Mason bought Muxbeare Orchard after a sudden windfall allowed them to quit their impoverished lives on a Hertfordshire council estate two years ago.

The Masons have transformed what they described as a derelict four-acre plot into a haven of self-sufficiency boasting a 400 sq m allotment, a polytunnel and greenhouses to grow fruit and vegetables, chickens for egg production and an orchard they have regenerated by planting around 14 new apple trees of various species.

The couple, who have two boys, aged eight and nine, say because they moved onto the site in order to work the land, Mid Devon District Council is turfing them off as officers do not consider them to be conserving an agricultural area.

They faced magistrates on March 31 when they were served with an injunction to leave within 28 days from June 1.

Dinah, 35, who spent a year with her husband clearing four-foot high nettles and thistles which engulfed the four-acre site, said: "How anybody can say the orchard was being conserved before is beyond my comprehension."

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