Farmers counting on spectators to avoid race clean up bill

The Grand Depart follows a route through the Yorkshire Dales.
The Grand Depart follows a route through the Yorkshire Dales.
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Farmers will foot the bill if drystone walls on their land are damaged by spectators who flock to the countryside for the Grand Départ of the Tour de France this summer.

Race organisers and North Yorkshire County Council have confirmed no compensation will be offered for damage to the heritage features. No service will be offered by the Council either for the removal of litter, dropped by spectators, from farmland.

A spokesperson for Tour de France HUB2014 Ltd, the co-ordinating body behind the event, said: “The key message being reinforced in all spectator guidance is to respect the environment and to leave the area as you found it.

“All parties are fully committed to spreading that message, along with countryside guidance in order to protect property and ensure Yorkshire’s unique landscape is undamaged.

“This guidance features in the official guide to the Tour which will be sold in ten countries across the world, and will also be prominent in all spectator information related to countryside areas of the race route.

“Tour Makers will be briefed to reinforce these messages so that everyone has a safe and enjoyable experience.

“As is usual with large public events, each local authority is developing clean-up arrangements appropriate for their areas.”

James Copeland, regional environment and land use adviser at the National Farmers’ Union, said: “We’ve been asking local authorities about their arrangements and have only had one response, from North Yorkshire County Council. Their position is very much ‘we will do what we can to mitigate the impact’ but ultimately if there’s an incident they aren’t responsible because it’s not on their land and they’re not in control of the event.

“This has been received with some frustration from farmers because the authorities helped to bring the event to the region and it can be quite expensive to carry out repairs.

“It’s going to be a fantastic event with lots of people visiting the countryside but it’s making sure everyone enjoys it. We wouldn’t want the legacy for farms to be a large bill for stone walls and clearing up.”

The first day of the Tour, on July 5, sees the race start from Leeds and follow a circular route via Hawes and Muker in the Dales on its way to Harrogate. On day two, the race leaves York for Sheffield via Keighley and Huddersfield.

A spokesman for North Yorkshire County Council said previous Tours left it confident that spectators will act responsibly.

“We are of course conscious of the concerns of landowners whose property adjoins the route of the Grand Départ, and while the Council is not legally liable for any damage which may result from the event, it will highlight the necessity of spectators having due regard for other people’s property. For example, relevant messages will be incorporated into spectator communications, and briefings given to stewards will emphasise the point.

“Experience of previous years’ Tours de France both in France itself and in other territories has demonstrated that the vast majority of spectators behave in a reasonable and responsible manner, and the Council has confidence that this will be the case in North Yorkshire in July.”

Spectator information is available at letour.yorkshire.com/spectator-guide