A farming couple who are facing eviction from land their family has occupied for centuries have moved to highlight the plight of tenant farmers.

David Yates first took over the tenancy on Earls Farm on Stitch-Mi-Lane in Harwood in 1995, with wife Karen having also run a beauty business and cattery from the site.

But in March 2022 the couple received a notice saying that they were facing eviction, have tried to fight a case to stay on the land at the civil courts and have now set up a petition highlighting the plight of tenant farmers around the country.

Mrs Yates said: “We, the Yates family, initially had 160 acres, today we are left with 12.5 acres. 

“Formerly a dairy farm, our family at Earls Farm have been the custodians of this land for over 300 years. 

The land at Earls FarmThe land at Earls Farm (Image: Public)

“We have farmed, tended and maintained this land for many generations, we are fighting for our heritage, livelihood and family home.”

Mrs Yates says that part of the land was taken over by the council in 2007.

She said that she and her husband believed they would be put on a new contract when building was finished on the new St Catherine’s Academy but heard nothing more until 2020.

Mrs Yates said that she believed that they would have been able to take ownership of the land having occupied it for more than 12 years thanks to an adverse possession order.

But the couple were still told that they would have to leave by April 30, 2022 and having refused to do so, took their case to Manchester Civil Justice Centre.

Mrs Yates has now set up a petition to highlight the plight of tenant farmers like her and her husband.

She said: “There needs to be adequate compensation to cover the true costs experienced by tenant farmers who are displaced for housing or energy schemes.

“This includes having to relocate both home and business.  

“The present statutory fall back provisions are wholly inadequate and it is alarming that many tenant farmers are treated with disdain by their landlords, receiving little or no communication, adding insult to injury at such a difficult, life-changing time.”

Mrs Yates also aims to release her autobiography, with the working title Scars of the Past, by the end of the year.

She said: “I have recounted our story from the start to the finish of the battle for Earls Farm

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“It does of course await its final chapter and the words of those last few pages are yet to be written, because they are yet to be determined by the acts and moral compass of Bolton Council.”

She says that she is also working on a documentary focused on her and Mr Yates’ fight for Earls Farm as well as the situation other farmer around the country are facing.

The council has said it cannot comment on individual cases.

Mrs Yates’ petition can be found by searching Protect Farmers' Tenancy and Human Rights on Change.org.