CAMPAIGNERS have lost their legal battle to prevent Withers Farm from playing polytunnels for table top strawberry production on fields in Ocle Pychard.

Soft fruit farmer George Leeds submitted the plans for the land at Highway, Lodge and Haycroft Farm in Ocle Pychard last year after purchasing the former council-owned smallholding in 2017.

His proposals are for the installation of 11 blocks of polytunnels which would cover more than 90 acres with caravans to house up to 350 seasonal workers.

Almost 400 people had signed a petition opposing the previous plans for the site and neighbouring parish councils objected to the scheme.

Herefordshire Council granted the site planning permission and the Campaign to Protect Rural England lodged a legal challenge against their decision.

But the High Court has now dismissed the challenge.

Kathie Barrs, a local resident who objected to the proposals, said the community was hugely disappointed with the result.

“We all knew he would get his way in the end,” she said.

“He had the money and the backing and support from the industry.

“But the community is heartened that we pulled together and took him on.”

She also said she felt county residents will be surprised when they see the extent of the fields covered by polytunnels.

“A lot of people don’t realise the size of this.

“It isn’t a case of just small cloches spread along the field.

“People are going to be so shocked when they see what it’s like.”