Developing land and moving caravans near an ancient monument without planning consent has cost a Pembroke Dock man £17,170.

Richard Scarfe, care of Park Street, pleaded guilty to contravening a planning temporary stop notice and two charges of breaching an enforcement notice when he appeared before Haverfordwest magistrates on Wednesday, May 8.

Charges were withdrawn against Scarfe’s partner.

Matthew Paul, prosecuting for Pembrokeshire Coast National Park Authority, said the field near The Ridgeway, Manorbier Newton, was near a Bronze Age barrow, which was a scheduled ancient monument.

He added the family enquired about establishing a settlement on the site in 2015, but were advised that it would not be acceptable.

The authority was later notified that earth works were being carried out and a caravan had been brought onto the land. Development continued, despite a temporary stop notice, and more caravans appeared on the site.

Further stop and enforcement notices to restore the land, following a failed appeal, were not complied with.

Mr Paul said: “It’s a serious breach of planning control. It is deliberate and took place over four years. The defendant has repeatedly failed to comply with stop and enforcement notices, and development has intensified.”

He added that ‘direct action’ to restore the land at the owner’s expense would be the authority’s next move.

The court heard that Scarfe, still owed money on the area, but had now transferred ownership of to his daughter

Jonathan Webb, defending, said the large family found themselves homeless after having to leave rented accommodation, and were told their only option was to stay in a hostel for a long time.

Scarfe, 38, took out a loan and maxed out his credit card to buy the field.

Mr Webb said: “The family moved there because they had no-where else to go.”

Scarfe’s partner was later able to find a house to rent, and he continued to use the land as a small holding, with the Bronze Age barrow ‘penned off’ and untouched by the development.

Mr Webb added: “The family care for the land and rely on it. They do not want to destroy it, quite the contrary.

“This was a desperate man who was looking for somewhere to house his partner and children at that time. This is not about trying to destroy an ancient monument that people can’t even look at.”

Magistrates fined Scarfe a total of £15,000 and ordered him to pay £2,000 costs plus a £170 surcharge.

The chairman of the bench said: “One of the privileges of living in the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park is that the environment is preserved for the whole population, both now and in the future.”

“The offence is aggravated by the fact that, despite persistent warnings, you were advised not to proceed, and yet you continued to do so.”