A LONG-STANDING war of words between a farmer and a neighbour over a protracted planning dispute may have reached a conclusion.

Janet Sewell, of Mill House Farm, Windmill, near Bishop Auckland, and neighbour Alison Parker have been in opposition over an application to erect three barns on the farm site, in 2005.

The former Teesdale District Council gave planning approval and two barns were erected by Mrs Sewell.

Neighbours, including Mrs Parker, formed a residents’ group to complain about alleged excessive noise and odour from the site, and took their case to the Local Government Ombudsman (LGO).

The LGO’s report, in 2012, said the barns should not have been given consent.

But, Mrs Parker, the group secretary, was convicted of fraud, in 2015, after sending two letters of objection to the LGO purporting to be from Evenwood and Barony Parish Council.

Following her conviction, the LGO issued a second report, changing its finding.

The dispute took a further turn when Mrs Parker subsequently accused Mrs Sewell of harassment in comments she felt were aimed at her, in social media posts between July 2016 and March 2017.

Mrs Sewell denied posting “oppressive and unreasonable” messages, claiming she was only outlining the facts.

Mrs Parker told last August’s hearing, at Newton Aycliffe Magistrates’ Court, that she acknowledged her conviction, but felt “upset” as some of Mrs Sewell’s posts labelled her, “a convicted fraudster”.

A district judge cleared Mrs Sewell of harassment but imposed a five-year restraining order to prevent her referring to Mrs Parker in further Facebook posts.

In the latest twist to the saga, Mrs Sewell appealed to Durham Crown Court over the terms or length of that restraining order.

Having been told the planning process is now concluded and there have been no further incidents since the August hearing, Judge Jonathan Carroll intervened and said it was time to bring the impasse to a conclusion.

Following discussions between both parties, Mrs Parker and Mrs Sewell agreed to sign an undertaking: “Not to make any hostile, derogatory or insulting statements about each other, either in person, or to a third-party in public, on any social media, newspaper or tv programme.”

It will run for two years, with breaches by either party likely to be subject to Contempt of Court proceedings.