“Don’t be afraid of the system” say Devon couple evicted from their mud home

After being ‘forced out’ of her previous rented home, Kate Burrows said her permanent flu-like symptoms were a result of Multiple Chemical Sensitivity*.

Kate and her husband Alan spent six weeks creating a mud home on their smallholding near Chulmleigh in North Devon, complete with two bedrooms, living and kitchen areas and an outside compost toilet. A makeshift boiler heated the bathwater and a hand pump delivered water from the river. The unique building was created from turf, tree trunks, lime mortar, mud and straw. Solar panels provided electricity.

The couple kept goats, chickens and sheep and to earn money they sold willow baskets and saplings. Kate claims that the move completely restored her health but now, after living in the mud home for three years, North Devon Council has taken enforcement action to evict the couple, as the house contravened planning laws.

It said the “medieval-style hovel” was “reminiscent of homes in the hit Lord of the Rings and Hobbit films”, demanding that the hut be dismantled.

The determined couple will continue their battle. The couple have accused the council of ‘bullying’ them out of the home they built to combat an allergy to modern life. They say they will now move to Ireland where: “farming and low impact living is embraced”.  They announced on Twitter: “It is with sadness that we announce that North Devon nimby council have bullied us into removing our home, and prevented us from running an agricultural business on our own agricultural land.”

North Devon Council said it was “supportive of sustainable development” but that it did not allow housing development wherever people wished.

* MSC is not currently recognised as an illness in the UK, but having multiple sensitivities is listed as a symptom of ME. The World Health Organisation has classified MSC as a health problem that can cause allergy symptoms from exposure to everyday things – such as moulds, the chemicals in mains water or paint, or the electromagnetic fields in electricity and wifi.


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