Undisclosed number of jobs lost as farm research sites close

PUBLISHED: 16:25 01 May 2007 | UPDATED: 22:46 28 May 2010

TWO Fenland farm research sites are being sold with an undisclosed number of jobs being lost. The Arthur Rickwood research site at Mepal Fen near Chatteris and the pig research site at Terrington St Clement are being sold by the Department for Environment

TWO Fenland farm research sites are being sold with an undisclosed number of jobs being lost.

The Arthur Rickwood research site at Mepal Fen near Chatteris and the pig research site at Terrington St Clement are being sold by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra).

The sites are currently rented by ADAS, a company providing independent science-based research and consultancy. ADAS will continue to run a sheep unit on the Arthur Rickwood site with Defra keeping on part of the farm to support it but will withdraw from Terrington completely.

About 80 acres of Grade One Fen land and an irrigation reservoir are for sale at The Arthur Rickwood site with a price tag of £330,000. At Terrington the 292 acre arable farm, piggery and office block, will be sold in five lots for £1.4m.

Four sites in other parts of the country are also being sold at a time of reduced research and poor agricultural returns.

ADAS will continue to carry our research and development on commercial farms.

A spokesman for ADAS said: "Regrettably, the implementation of the agreement will result in a number of post losses at the sites affected. While it is impossible to quantify these losses at this time, ADAS is committed to working with every individual employee concerned to identify suitable options for them, including moving to a different part of the ADAS business."

Group managing director Colin Speller said: "In common with all commercial businesses, ADAS is continually evaluating the best ways of meeting client needs competitively. The decision to vacate the farm sites has been taken following detailed consideration of the current and future market place for the services provided, which included discussions with our major clients.

"The agreement with Defra is an excellent opportunity for us to move our R&D operation onto a more flexible and cost-effective footing while continuing to provide a first class service."

The site in Mepal Fen was given to the nation for experimental husbandry purposes by Alderman Arthur Samuel Rickwood CBE of Chatteris in 1963.

He became one of the country's most progressive and well-known farmers having started with an acre of land given to him by his father, William.

Ald Rickwood built up a farming empire covering 9,000 acres in the Isle of Ely, Norfolk and Suffolk. He earned himself the titles of 'The Carrot King' and 'The Farming Millionaire'.

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