Despite the Planning Department recommending that the application be refused, this week the Planning Committee approved Laurence and Louise Agnès’ plans due to the overwhelming support they had from neighbours, the Jersey Farmers Union, Jersey Business and parish representatives.
The couple, who run Douet Farm – a livestock smallholding on a number of fields near Rue Guerdain, say that the decision means they will be able to live on site and grow the business to 100 dairy goats, 200 laying hens, ten Angus Jersey cross beef animals, 50 lambs and 75 goat kids each year.
Their business plans include producing organic Genuine Jersey goat’s milk, which they say will supply a growing local market and therefore reduce the Island’s reliance on imported goods. They also plan to produce organic goat’s cheese, yoghurt, ice cream, kid meat and pastured eggs, alongside the 100 per cent grass-fed beef and lamb which they currently produce.
The couple, who met in Jersey Young Farmers’ Club, said they are ‘thrilled’ at the decision.
Mrs Agnès said: ‘We’re absolutely delighted! It’s fantastic news for us as a family and for Jersey. Goat’s milk is becoming more and more popular and at the moment it’s virtually all imported. Meeting this demand with locally-produced milk will be great for the Island.’
They also plan to classify their farm as certified organic, which they described as another benefit for Jersey as the area of organic land in the Island has declined significantly since 2008.
Mrs Agnès said: ‘We’re extremely grateful to everyone who’s supported us along the way – we couldn’t have done it without you. We’re so lucky to be able to live our dream – can’t wait to get started.’
Current planning policy asks people who want to build new farm developments to show they have an income of more than £40,000 a year, setting the bar deliberately high to ensure applicants are ‘bona fide’ farmers.
However, at a hearing on Thursday members of the Planning Committee noted the support the scheme had received and concluded that new entrants to agriculture should be encouraged, where they are able to demonstrate the right track record and a proper business approach.
It was also felt that good animal welfare would be best served by having the three-bedroom house and the barn nearby and away from other residents.
The shed will house the milking parlour, dairy processing rooms and farm machinery, as well as providing shelter for the goats when they are not browsing pasture.