A French farmer has to pay his neighbours €102 000 (about $111 000) in damages after his cows were deemed noisy and smelly. Vincent Verschuere, who resides in Saint-Aubin-en-Bray the Oise region, was ordered to do so after the matter was heard in the Amiens court of appeal.
The neighbours reportedly claimed that the smell and sounds from Verschuere’s farm were disruptive, as he recently expanded his farm closer to the centre of the village.
The appeal court upheld the initial decision made in the Beauvais court, as far back as 2018. While the court order did not demand that the farmer move his farm or dismantle his barns, he was asked to come up with a “technical solution.”
Speaking to ConnexionFrance, Verschuere said: “This case was my last chance. I am so disappointed, I feel as though it’s a real injustice. I don’t have this money in my account. This means the end of my farm. I’ll need to take the cattle out of their barn. I won’t be able to work anymore.”
In 2010, the farmer invested €600 000 in the expansion of his farm. Two cattle barns, one measuring 2 800m2, were built as part of the project. He had also obtained gotten prefectural permission and made sure the barns were at least 100m2 away from the nearest residential homes int he village.
Long line of conflicts
Residents of the village complained about odours and noise, and the case was taken to court. Verschuere’s building licence being revoked in 2013 as a result.
“The building that houses the cattle… has a completely open façade to the outside, which offers no real barrier against smell or noise,” the court ruled on Wednesday, 9 March 2022.
The lawsuit is the latest in a long line of conflicts in the French countryside over “nuisance” caused by animals, rural sounds, and farming.
In 2017, a feud erupted between residents and a farmer in Haute-Loire who refused to remove bells from his cowherds despite a court order to do so.
After neighbours complained about the strong odour of his cow farm, a farmer in Cantal was fined €8 000 in 2019.
After resisting complaints from holiday homeowners about the noise of his crowing, Maurice the cockerel gained international renown, while Coco the cockerel in Margny-lès-Compiègne received around 100 000 signatures in a petition against a judgement compelling his owner to remove him or face fines.