Resolution for ‘Just A Farmer’ Following Meeting with Minister David Burch

“We are pleased to have reached a positive resolution that benefits all parties involved. Our Ministry remains dedicated to creating a supportive and collaborative environment for farmers and leaseholders while ensuring compliance with statutory regulations,” said Minister of Public Works Lt. Col. the Hon. David A. Burch, OBE (Mil), ED, JP, MP.

The Ministry of Public Works is pleased to announce a positive step towards resolving the recent concerns raised by Mr Malachi Symonds, known as ‘Just A Farmer.’

In the spirit of cooperation and support for our local farmers, the Minister recently met with Mr Symonds to discuss the matter and seek an amicable solution.

Minister Burch reiterated the Ministry’s commitment to supporting farmers and leaseholders utilising Government-owned land for agricultural purposes.

He emphasised that the Ministry’s goal is to create an environment where farmers can thrive and contribute to the growth of the agricultural sector.

The meeting between Minister Burch and Mr Symonds was marked by open and constructive dialogue.

As a result, Minister Burch agreed to suspend the termination of Mr Symonds’ lease, provided that he submits a retroactive planning application by the end of November 2023.

The public will recall that the decision to terminate Mr Symonds’ lease was made after careful consideration and adherence to the terms and conditions of his lease agreement.

It’s essential to provide context to the situation. Mr Symonds had erected structures on the property without obtaining the necessary planning approvals or seeking the consent of the Ministry.

In May 2023, the Department of Planning issued a planning contravention notice to the Ministry of Public Works, the landlord, over the unauthorised structures Mr Symonds had erected, including chicken coops and sheds.

Both the Ministry and the Department of Planning expressed a willingness to work with Mr Symonds, provided he submitted a retroactive planning application to address the situation.

This requirement was communicated to him in May 2022, and he was given an additional six months to make the necessary submission.

Mr Symonds attempted on two occasions to submit a retroactive application, and the electronic system rejected both without indicating the errors.

The Ministry of Public Works and others are working with Mr Symonds to prepare and submit a completed retroactive application.

The Ministry looks forward to continuing its cooperation with Mr Symonds and other farmers, maintaining a positive and proactive approach to address any challenges that may arise in the future.

Minister Burch added: “It has always been our intention to avoid terminating Mr Symonds’ lease, and I firmly believe in supporting opportunities for local farmers.

“While I regret that our Ministry has had to take this course of action, I am very pleased that it has led to a positive resolution.”

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