Fenland field will, sadly, NOT be home to a raccoon, three skunks, foxes, eight tarantulas, a ferret, a scorpion, a giant tortoise and eight meerkats

PUBLISHED: 15:59 31 March 2017 | UPDATED: 10:37 04 April 2017

One of the animals that featured on the website run by Matthew and Kelly Bates

One of the animals that featured on the website run by Matthew and Kelly Bates

Archant

An exotic animal farm in a Fenland field that could have been home to a raccoon, three skunks, foxes, eight tarantulas, a ferret, a scorpion, a giant tortoise and eight meerkats has been refused permission.

The Exotic Animal Encounter is a small family business owned by Matthew and Kelly Bates.

The couple had hoped, as the business expanded, to move to land they own near Guyhirn.

Fenland Council has however rejected their application for change of use and for erecting a barn and siting portacabins there. A newly installed portacabin would have been used as a reptile enclosure.

Council officials said the Bates family claimed to have run the business for five years and it was profitable but had not submitted a proper business plan in support – they said “broad brush statements” were not sufficient.

They also claimed no justification had been provided as to why this site was needed – and essential- and the Environment Agency said it was not clear whether the buildings were residential and therefore subject to flood risk assessments. The couple had previously paid for a flood risk assessment that concluded that flooding was so unlikely it should re classified as a flood zone one.

“The mobile homes are NOT for residential use” they insisted in one email sent to the council.

The same email adds that “I for one would not like to spend a night in a converted caravan with a couple of large Burmese pythons”.

The council concluded that “inadequate justification” had been provided for the proposal which has no link to agriculture and there was no reason why the business couldn’t be conducted in a more sustainable location. The business involves taking various rare animals to locations throughout the UK to demonstrate to children and others.

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