Council accuses Jeremy Clarkson and Amazon of warping truth of Diddly Squat planning meeting
| Last updated
A council has hit back at Jeremy Clarkson's Amazon documentary series for presenting a 'warped' narrative of the planning meeting that led to the refusal of the Diddly Squat expansion application.
The second series of Clarkson's Farm featured scenes showing conflict between the West Oxfordshire District Council and the former Top Gear star.
The clash started after Clarkson's bid for a new restaurant and farm track were thrown out.
But the authority has now defended its decision after growing criticism from fans of the show, one example being the sign-post for the location which once read 'Diddly Squat Farm Shop' which was slightly amended to read: 'Diddly T**t Farm Shop'.
The council claims Clarkson and his representatives hampered their own chances of success by refusing to work with its planners or engage with them to ensure the application was successful.
One particularly controversial claim was the suggestion that the restaurant was refused partly because it would cause light pollution or affect the 'dark skies' - as it was referred to in the show.
In a statement, released via local paper the Oxford Mail, the council said the new season of Clarkson’s Farm was not representative of what happened in the planning meetings at all.
A spokesperson said: "The planning meeting shown in Clarkson’s Farm ran for well over an hour but was covered in a matter of minutes in the show.
"This meant that a lot of discussion from the meeting was missed, including a lot of very relevant legal planning advice and discussion that informed the decision taken by councillors."
The spokesperson continued to note that the 'dark skies' argument that can be seen in the programme was just a 'very small part' of the overall discussion that the council and Clarkson had.
They stated this was not the reason for the refusal of planning permission, adding: "Officers and councillors have to make some difficult decisions based on national planning related laws and guidance alongside local policies."
"Most applications," the spokesperson said, "have their pros and cons - as was obvious with the decisions for Diddly Squat Farm in Clarkson’s Farm."
While the source admitted that the council 'recognised the benefits' in the proposal to local farmers and the economy, they found that the proposals 'did not meet other planning requirements'.
"Ultimately," the council spokesperson explained, "having heard the whole case as opposed to edited highlights, the councillors voted to refuse planning permission."
They also added that Clarkson's unwillingness to engage hampered the chances of resolving disputes.
Comparing Clarkson's application to other businesses, the source noted: "Usually for applications like this, a business would speak to us so we can support it ensuring an application is compliant with planning policy.
"We would have been happy to do that in this case, however, Diddly Squat Farm did not engage with us nor follow advice from our planners when pulling together the application," they revealed.
According to the spokesperson, throughout the whole of series two, a lot of information was 'not included' or appears to have been 'misleading' for viewers.
They also claimed that this is what 'lead to the narrative promoted by the series that the council has a vendetta against Mr Clarkson'.
The council spokesperson then gave a 'good example' of the farm not complying with the council.
They said: "A good example of this was the ‘'refusal' of the farm track where the show omitted the fact that Diddly Squat Farm had applied retrospectively for work that can only be applied for in advance meaning the council had no choice under law but to refuse it."
Not only this, but it had been suggested in that the West Oxfordshire District Council had put cones along the road outside the farm which was 'not the case'.
The spokesperson has highlighted the council's objective approach to reviewing applications.
"We would like to be clear we treat each application fairly and objectively regardless of the individuals involved with the submission.
"This is also the case with the Diddly Squat Farm," they stated.
The council said it had approved many planning applications from Diddly Squat farm over the years when they were 'in line' with national and local planning policy, the source added.
Talking some more about what goes on when the camera aren't filming, the spokesperson outlined all the 'behind the scenes' conversations that have taken place.
"We have worked with the owners and planning agents of Diddly Squat Farm to try and reach a positive outcome where the business can operate within the planning laws and policies and help to support other local farmers.
"However," they went on, "we cannot force a business to work with us, and when that is the case we can only judge planning applications on what a business submits."
They ended the statement saying that the local council operates in a 'transparent' way which is why they were 'happy' for the production team to attend the meeting in the first place.
In response to these claims, a spokesperson for Clarkson's Farm said: "Naturally not every element of filming makes the final edit of the programmes, however the episode covered both sides of the debate and the outcome of the meeting."
They also added that no specific council was referenced as being responsible for the traffic cones placed on the side of the road.
Amazon UK has been contacted for comment.