Farmer who hid castle behind straw bales says he can't knock it down as bats have moved in
Published 10/11/2015 | 10:59
A farmer who hid his illegally built four-bedroom castle behind straw bales claims it cannot be knocked down because it is home to protected bats and newts.
The High Court heard how Robert Fidler hid his property from the council for years behind a giant wall of bales, but has now been given an injunction ordering its demolition.
Mr Fidler, 67, argued that he would be breaking European laws if he demolished the house as required by a court order without establishing the possible impact on "roosting" bats at the property.
He said on Monday that an ecological survey conducted in June had established the presence of bats and newts around the property.
Mr Fidler added that he was no longer the owner of the property, having sold it to a buyer earlier this year who allowed him to stay in the house - though he now faces eviction.
It is alleged the farmer hoped by concealing the house at Honeycrock Farm in Salfords he could exploit a loophole that meant if a construction was uncontested for four years authorities could not touch it.
He argued the only reason he built the property in 2000 was because planning authorities in Surrey failed to acknowledge an application to convert an existing property for nine years.
Mr Fidler and his family moved in in 2002 but it was later discovered by Reigate and Banstead Borough Council who ordered its demolition in 2007.