Farmer receives support payment penalty after removing drystone wall

James Orr removed the walls from his fields to create a 'prairie'
James Orr removed the walls from his fields to create a 'prairie'

A farmer who was accused of 'industrial-scale environmental destruction' after he removed six miles of drystone wall is to be stripped of 75% of his support payment.

The Scottish government has concluded its investigation into Fife-based James Orr, who runs 700-acre Pitlochie Farm, near Strathmiglo.

Mr Orr removed the walls from his fields to create a 'prairie'. However, the government has concerns that this will affect local wildlife and create a flooding risk.

His neighbour, Andrew Craig, who runs an adjacent farm, said it amounts to an 'industrial-scale environmental destruction' which will affect natural heritage and local biodiversity.

Mr Orr has now lost three-quarters of his taxpayer-funded support scheme payment as the investigation proved his actions were intentional.

Rural economy secretary Fergus Ewing said the penalty is significant and that it reflected the seriousness of the matter.

A Scottish government spokeswoman told the BBC that it will not tolerate breaches that cause 'permanent harm' to the landscape.

She said removing drystone dykes from fields also 'damages the reputation' of the Scottish agricultural industry.

“Common agricultural policy cross-compliance regulations are in place to help provide protection under a range of provisions, including environmental protection, public and animal health, animal welfare and protection of water,” the spokeswoman said.

She added: “We place high importance on these provisions and expect farmers and land managers to comply.”