AN ONLINE petition has been set up in support of a Herefordshire farmer described as causing "wanton destruction" by bulldozing the bank of the river Lugg.

Herefordshire farmer John Price has received support from around the county, with an online petition "to support the man who has done the job that the Environment Agency were too afraid to carry out, saving multiple local homes from the yearly flooding and the old bridge from further flood damage", started by Emily Naylor of Leominster to date signed by more than 10,500 people.

"When I started this petition, I did not expect it to receive so much attention," said Ms Naylor, who has worked in agriculture for more than six years and is passionate about British farming.


"I thought that this issue was very much a local story and that the locals were the only people up in arms about what was happening to John Price. It turns out that the whole case has been gaining momentum within not only the agricultural community, but with those further afield too. We passed the 10,000 signature mark on Tuesday afternoon, not even a week after starting. I am very grateful for the response that it has received, and it has made me realise that this is a country-wide issue.

John Price was sentenced last week (April 20) to 12 months in prison by a district judge at Kidderminster Magistrates' Court.

He was also ordered to pay prosecution costs of £600,000 and disqualified from being a director of a limited company for three years.

A Restoration Order under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 was also imposed requiring Price to carry out a number of actions to restore the river.

Among the many people voicing disquiet at the sentence is Bill Quan, chair of Herefordshire NFU.

"I am not condoning what he did," Mr Quan said, "but the sentence is wholly disproportionate to the crime. At the end of the day, there is a family involved here and this is absolutely brutal. John Price is no threat to society and he should not be going to prison.

"I would not have done what he did, and he should have stopped when asked, but the fact that the Environment Agency fail to make decisions drives people to distraction and some of the responsibility for this lies with them. "