Determined opponents of a new housing estate in Sandy Lane are squatting on the land to prevent workmen laying new sewers for it through a local family's garden.

Members of RAGE, (Residents' Action Group for the Environment) launched the new protest yesterday at Acacia Drive as the latest move in their long and bitter battle with developers Bryant Homes.

Local people have always opposed the idea of 92 new 'executive' style homes on green fields at the edge of the village. They lost their battle with Bradford Council planners who granted permission, but have waged a high-profile, direct action campaign to try and thwart Bryant at every stage.

Yorkshire Water, which complains it has become 'piggy in the middle' between residents and Bryant Homes, is legally obliged to lay a new sewer to serve the new houses and intends to dig up the garden of Acacia Road residents Glyn and Linda Bennett but are now being denied access by protesters.

Leading campaigner Jean Jones explained: "We don't think the sewage pipes should be going through the Bennetts' garden. We have put caravans on the land to try and prove a point.

"This sewage work is not essential, because the development should never take place. These houses are not needed in Sandy Lane."

Glyn Bennett, 54, who has been made redundant from his job as a textile worker, said: "A chap from Yorkshire Water told us the new sewer would do at least 600 houses and it makes you wonder if this is just the first phase.

"We feel aggrieved Bryants can come along and tell the water company to lay new sewers."

The residents are occupying two caravans parked on private land next to the Bennetts' house and claiming 'squatters' rights' under section 6 of the Criminal Law Act 1977. It will need court action to evict them but because neither Bryant Homes nor Yorkshire Water owns the land they are squatting, it is unclear how this will take place.

A spokesman for Yorkshire Water said: "YW has a statutory duty to provide the public sewers which will serve this new development.

"We have contracted the work out to Bradford Council and all the relevant notices have been issued to allow workmen access to the proposed construction area.

"Unfortunately we appear to have become piggy in the middle between Bryant Homes and residents.

"We intend speaking to both sides in a bid to bring a speedy resolve to the situation. When work eventually starts we anticipate the scheme will take three weeks to complete. Compensation is an issue we will be discussing with both private landowners whose property we will be crossing."

A spokesman for Bryant Homes said gaining access to the disputed site was a matter for Yorkshire Water.

"We asked YW to connect us to the main sewer and they have a statutory obligation to do so," he said.

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