MONMOUTHSHIRE council is forecasting a shortfall of £246,000 in its budget for legal costs and potential compensation due to a significant claim lodged against the council for the loss of shooting rights at High House Farm, near Raglan.
In 2012 the Welsh Government allowed the council to obtain the shooting rights on 27 acres of land at Bryngwyn, owned by the council next to the site of Monmouthshire Livestock Centre using a legal power known as a compulsory purchase order following an inquiry.
The site had a covenant within the deed that gave former owner Jack Hanbury-Tenison a right to shoot up to 10 times a year at 24 hours notice, within 10 metres of the boundary.
The council argued this would mean the auctioneers could not hold a market on the 10 days the rights were exercised because of the proximity of live ammunition being fired.
The Welsh Government considered the recommendations made by the planning inspector and, in July, found there was a compelling case in the public interest to acquire the rights and that there are substantial community benefits to be gained from a new livestock market.
It will now be subject to a preliminary hearing to determine the correct legal interpretation of relevant case law in May at the earliest. This will determine the outcome for a significant proportion of the claim. Legal advice has been provided to the council but the final outcome remains highly unpredictable as does the amount of compensation payable.
Costs that will be incurred include legal and expert advice relating to the compensation claim for shooting rights, to achieve a cleared site on the former Abergavenny Livestock Market with vacant possession for Morrisons and the conclusion of negotiations with existing tenants which are all part of the Abergavenny Regeneration livestock scheme.
An overspend is also anticipated in later years as a further £51,000 is being forecast for legal costs in addition to the compensation potentially payable in relation to shooting rights.