After beating 2,500 applicants to win the tenancy of a £1million farm for £1, Daniel Jones thought all his dreams had come true.
But three years later the shepherd has revealed they have turned into a ‘nightmare.’
Jones, 40, went on trial yesterday charged with animal health offences and admitted he was struggling to cope with running the 145-acre Parc Farm, on the picturesque Great Orme headland, which sits above the seaside resort of Llandudno, north Wales.
The farm was famously saved from being turned into a golf course by the National Trust, who advertised in 2016 for a farmer prepared to use traditional shepherding methods to protect the area’s many rare plants, including the Great Orme berry, which grows nowhere else in the world.
Yesterday Jones, who denies 11 charges under the Animal Health Act, including failing to dispose of sheep carcasses or keep a proper tally of his animals and their movements, revealed how he had underestimated the task of farming such a vast area – the farm has grazing rights to a further 720 acres of Great Orme – and looking after his 500-strong herd of sheep and lambs.
Farmer Daniel Jones, pictured, won the £1million Parc Farm on the Great Orme headland in north Wales for just £1 after beating out 2,500 other applicants
Jones, who has been a farmer for 15 years, won the tenancy on the basis that he use traditional shepherding methods to protect the area’s many rare plants, including the Great Orme berry, which grows nowhere else in the world. Pictured: the Great Orme headland
Although he has been a farmer for 15 years and previously looked after 1,000 sheep on Anglesey, Jones told trading standards officers: ‘The Orme is just a massive step up and a big area.
‘It’s been affecting my personal life…working all the time. I thought I was doing everything okay but obviously I’m not.’
He said he had developed a stress-related condition since taking on the farm.
District judge Gwyn Jones, sitting at Llandudno Magistrates Court, was told that Conwy County Council began investigating Jones following a complaint from a member of the public that three dead sheep had been left to rot on land he owned in January 2018.
In a statement read to the hearing, Jones said he didn’t know ‘how I missed them,’ but admitted he had ‘so much going on.’
He said he had bought an all-terrain vehicle to keep track of his herd but regularly did 25 miles a day rounding up sheep, who often wandered onto the lower slopes of the Great Orme and into the town.
‘Every phone call I get I have to go straightaway,’ he said. ‘The last thing I want to do is upset the people of Llandudno.’
David Kirwan, representing Jones, told the court that his client had been targeted by trading standards officers because they wanted to restore their reputation after losing a series of other cases.
Although he has been a farmer for 15 years and previously looked after 1,000 sheep on Anglesey, Jones, pictured outside court, said the 145-acre farm was a massive step up and he had developed a stress-related condition
He is on trial on 11 charges under the Animal Health Act including failing to dispose of sheep carcasses or keep a proper tally of his animals and their movements
He claimed Jones had been told by one trading standards officer: ‘Farmers around here think we are a joke and we need to show them we are not.’
The lawyer added: ‘This whole case amounts to a barrel-scraping exercise. Conwy decided to make an example of Daniel to try to restore its reputation.’
Jones was charged last year with 20 charges but nine of them have since been dropped.
John Wyn Williams, prosecuting for the council, said the authority had acted reasonably and Jones had failed to comply with movement regulations for his sheep and lambs.
The National Trust bought Parc Farm, which commands spectacular views of Snowdonia and the Irish Sea, for £1million in 2015 as part of its 10-year plan to arrest the decline in rural wildlife.
The organisation provided Mr Jones, who also previously ran a bed and breakfast, with a 400-strong flock of native-breed Lleyn and Herdwick sheep to graze the coastal edge alongside the Orme’s existing Kashmiri goats and he moved into the refurbished farmhouse with his wife, Ceri, and son, Efan, shortly before Christmas 2016.
After winning the tenancy Jones said: ‘[It] is a dream farm, it is such a beautiful location, the views are amazing, and I’m really looking forward to farming in a different way to make a difference for nature.’
Jones denies failing to dispose of three sheep carcasses, failing to keep a register of animal movements and nine charges of failing to notify the authorities of animals he received between 2016 and 2018.