News Release HAMILTON, Bermuda “The Ministry of Public Works will continue supporting farmers and leaseholders who utilise Government-owned land for agricultural purposes,” said Minister of Public Works Lt Col David Burch, in response to social media posts from Malachi Symonds (aka ‘Just A Farmer’) over his farm.
The Ministry of Public Works was made aware of complaints on social media from Mr Symonds surrounding the Ministry’s decision to end his lease of a Government-owned farm.
“While we encourage and facilitate their endeavours, it is essential to underline that compliance with established rules and regulations is a fundamental aspect of our cooperative environment,” Minister Burch stressed.
The Ministry believes in fostering a cooperative environment that enables farmers to thrive and contribute to the agricultural sector’s growth.
Over the last two years a tremendous effort has been made to ensure that all arable land owned by government was leased to farmers or in some cases created community gardens.
It is important to clarify that the decision to revoke Mr Symonds’ lease was not taken lightly.
Mr Symonds erected structures on the property without obtaining the necessary planning approvals or seeking the consent of the Ministry, which serves as the landlord for the farm.
This action violated the terms and conditions of his lease agreement. Despite repeated advisories from the Ministry, Mr Symonds refused to remove the structures over an entire year.
In 2022, the Department of Planning issued a stop notice to address the unauthorised structures that Mr. Symonds had erected, including chicken coops and sheds.
Both the Ministry and the Department of Planning expressed a willingness to collaborate with him, provided he submitted a retroactive planning application to rectify the situation. Mr Symonds was duly informed of the requirement in May 2022 and was granted an additional six months to apply.
Regrettably, he refused to follow through with the necessary submission or provide the requested documentation to the Planning Department. Consequently, he was notified that his lease would be terminated effective November 30, 2023, in accordance with the provisions of his lease agreement.
We emphasise that our objective is to create a supportive environment for farmers and leaseholders who wish to use Government-owned land, but they still have to comply with statutory regulations.