The temporary stop notice was served after residents of the area reported significant unauthorised works being carried out on land north west of its Penrith site, without planning permission.
A council planning officer visited the site on Monday morning (September 5) and found large excavation works were being carried out on the site, with materials being transported by Metcalfe Plant Hire Vehicles Ltd.
Legal notices were also served to Thornton Meat Company Ltd – which owned the land – and Metcalfe Plant Hire Vehicles Ltd, which carried out works at the site.
Committing a criminal offence
The legal notices required all the parties involved to cease any unauthorised works immediately.
If any party failed to stop work, they will be committing a criminal offence and would be liable to an unlimited fine in the Crown Court, said the council.
The firms would also be liable a maximum fine of £20,000 per offence in the Magistrates court.
“Where possible, we would look to work with local businesses and help them develop in the right place,” said Eden District Council's portfolio holder for economic development Michael Slee.
“However, it is unacceptable for anyone to knowingly breach planning control and think they can cause harm and disruption to our residents without suffering any consequences.
‘Could land them in court’
“After receiving this notice I hope that the company, and others, think very carefully before carrying out any further works that could land them in court.”
Slee also urged people who were unsure what they could and couldn’t do under planning law to seek advice from planning officers.
The land is subject to a planning application for the erection of a storage building, hardstanding, access for vehicles, a car park and various other works.
A spokesman for Omega Proteins said that the works on the site were for the purpose of agriculture, which legislation said did not require formal planning approval.
The company has since contacted Eden District Council to clear up any confusion about the exact nature of the works.
“We have always worked with Eden District Council and will continue to do so,” said the spokesman. “We share the aim of working together to resolve this matter and getting back on site as soon as possible.
“These are agricultural works and centre on the creation of a pond on farmland that the group owns. They were started in good faith as, after taking expert planning advice, they considered it as permitted development and said it was ok to proceed. This has been now communicated to Eden District Council.”