A Pembrokeshire family who live a low impact, off grid lifestyle on a One Planet Development farm on the hills above a popular tourist town say that they are at risk of losing all they have worked for over the last six years as they are threatened with legal action.

Charis and Matthew Watkinson live on Beeview Farm at the foot of Carningli above Newport. After the gruelling One Planet application process the couple, along with their children, Elsa and Billy, got permission to live and farm Beeview, with its sweeping views of Newport Bay, under the Welsh Government scheme.

Western Telegraph: The unique off grid sustainable home is nestled beneath Carningli in Newport. The unique off grid sustainable home is nestled beneath Carningli in Newport. (Image: Beeview Farm)

The family has just passed their five-year probationary period, meaning that they have met the stringent Welsh Government sustainable living targets. Even managing to exceed the strict specifications; last year they grew 73 per cent of their food as opposed to the required 65 per cent.

The family has a poultry business, selling both chicken and duck eggs and rear geese for the table.

The family also sells honey from its hives, beeswax beauty products and surplus fruit and vegetables at local shops and is looking at developing nettle based foods.

Western Telegraph: Nettle beer brewing at Beeview Farm.Nettle beer brewing at Beeview Farm. (Image: Beeview Farm.)

Charis and Matthew moved to Pembrokeshire from Essex, where they both worked as vets.

“We just wanted a piece of land somewhere peaceful and quiet where we could pitch a tent and plant some trees,” said Matthew.

As time progressed they realised that they could live off grid and sustainably through the One Planet process and so began their life at Beeview Farm.

Western Telegraph: Pultry is part of the family's land based business. Pultry is part of the family's land based business. (Image: Beeview Farm.)

The family was delighted to pass the One Planet probationary period and things were looking positive, with people from all over Europe visiting the farm to learn more about sustainable living.

However, on January 6 the family were told that legal action would be taken against them for using a lane and a track which leads to their land.

Western Telegraph: Last year the family grew more than 70 per cent of its own food. Last year the family grew more than 70 per cent of its own food. (Image: Beeview Farm.)

The family says that a neighbour has bought a small part of the lane accessing the farm, as well as a footpath, from the Barony of Newport and has made it a permissive right of way.


Signs erected on the path state that the only access for Beeview Farm is for agricultural use and not to access any accommodation. The family have to use the tracks to access their home, hence the threat of legal action.

Financially unable to face a legal challenge they have set up a gofundme to cover the cost and have been overwhelmed by the support both great and small.

“People have been amazing,” said Charis. “There has been incredible support in the community.”

Western Telegraph: Recycled materials are put to good use. Recycled materials are put to good use. (Image: Beeview Farm)

They have said that any excess money will be donated to others in a similar situation.

Charis and Matthew are also keen to get the paths registered as public rights of way both for themselves and for the members of the community who use the footpaths to access Carningli and the Common.

“This has been the historic route from mountain and the common to the town,” said Matthew. “It is where the peat, stone and anything else would have been brought off the mountain to the town.”

Western Telegraph: The family grows firewood from a small woodland that they coppice. The family grows firewood from a small woodland that they coppice. (Image: Beeview Farm)

They are worried that if the paths remain as permissive paths there may be a point when the landowners refuse access.

They are asking anybody who is a regular user of the paths to write to Newport Town Council, asking them to apply to have them registered as public rights of way and also to fill out a user evidence form to send to Pembrokeshire County Council.

Western Telegraph: Living off the land. Living off the land. (Image: Beeview Farm)

“If we can save this right of way, we can save our access rights and our home,” said Matthew. “That's a pretty important right of way.”

We passionately believe in the value of good, trusted journalism. If you share that belief, you can experience the benefits of unlimited advert-light news access from journalists you know and trust on your favourite devices - subscribe today HERE.

With a digital subscription you will experience up to 80% less advertising, this means faster loading pages and ultimately a much better user experience. You can also sign up for our free daily newsletters HERE.