Revealed: Farmer paid £1.5MILLION of public money to stop rearing pigs so ... trends now
A farmer who is is being paid almost £1.5million of public money to stop rearing pigs does not even own the animals on his land.
MailOnline told last week how James Daniels was getting the cash windfall as part of a plan to loosen planning constraints and allow up to 5,000 new homes to be built in Norfolk.
In return, he must agree to no longer keep pigs on his fields at Markshall Farm either side of the A47 bypass south of Norwich to stop harmful nutrients flowing into two nearby rivers.
But it can now be revealed that the estimated 2,000 pigs reared each year on his farm belong to a company called Norfolk Free Range Ltd which rents the land from him.
The company which rears pigs at around 40 sites across East Anglia is ultimately owned by self-made millionaire farmers Steve and Sally Ann Hart.
The company behind the farm rears pigs at around 40 sites across East Anglia
The company behind the farm is owned by Steve Hart (left) who was previously crowned pig farmer of the year. James Daniels, who is being paid £1.5million not to raise pigs on his farm, does not even own the pigs himself
In a bizarre twist to the story, it potentially means there is nothing to stop Mr and Mrs Hart rearing the same number of pigs on another piece of land in Norfolk.
An outraged local villager who asked not to be named said: 'People were concerned about James Daniels making a fortune by not having pigs on his land any more.'But the fact that those pigs are owned by someone else and could simply be moved elsewhere, means they will still be producing the same amount of nutrients.
'It turns the whole thing into a box ticking exercise because the net environmental gain could be absolutely nil. It is just green washing.'
Mr Hart, a former national Pig Farmer of the year, admitted that he rented the land at Markshall Farm, and only found out about his landlord's huge payout when he read news reports about it last Friday.
Speaking to MailOnline while he was tending to some of his pigs with his daughter, he insisted that he would not be a beneficiary of Mr Daniels' windfall.
Asked what would happen to his pigs, he said: 'I have not seen him. I don't yet know what will happen. It was news to me and I don't know anything about it. I have not seen or heard from James since that article.'
Mr Hart, 63, who lives with his wife in a palatial Grade Two listed Elizabethan manor house in west Norfolk, declined to comment further, saying: 'Honestly, I'm up to my eyes in it at the minute I'm afraid.'
Earlier his wife, speaking from their 16th century home, admitted it was possible that they could find an alternative site to raise the same number of pigs.
Mrs Hart, 53, said: 'We are tenants. It's not our land. It's all a bit odd isn't it. We're not gaining anything out of it.
'We always rent land because we move pigs all the time. Farmers love us because we provide the muck and its good for the land, but we are constantly moving farms and sites.
Mr Hart, a former national Pig Farmer of the year, admitted that he rented the land at Markshall Farm, and only found out about his landlord's huge payout when he read news reports about it last Friday
There is nothing to stop Mr and Mrs Hart rearing the same number of pigs on another piece of land in Norfolk
Former grain trader Mr Hart launched his pig empire with the last £500 in his pocket in the early 1990s
The deal is part of a move to reduce the amount of harmful nutrients flowing into waterways in Norfolk
A covenant is to stop James Daniels pig farming on his land which sits by the A47 bypass south of Norwich
Under a directive issued last year, local authorities are obliged to find ways to 'offset' the impact of pollution on waterways caused by new developments
'There is only a certain time that pigs can be on the land because they root it up. It is all part of crop rotation. We must have 40 sites and thousands of pigs.'
Companies House records show that Mr and Mrs Hart are directors and owners of Hart Farms Holdings Ltd which in turn owns Norfolk Free Range Ltd.
The latest accounts for Hart Farms Holdings Ltd for the year ending in January 2022 show that it paid out dividends to its shareholders of nearly £4.4million during the year.
The accounts reveal the company had a turnover of more than £29million and made a gross profit of nearly £9million, although it actually made an operating loss of £1.1million after costs and operating expenses.