Postcard from... Belgium


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The Independent Online


We all know how easy it is for a small spats between neighbours to escalate. Perhaps there is a dispute about noise, arguments over trimming the hedges, or maybe a row over whose side of the fence a contentious tree sits.

Most of us, however, try to settle them in a calm and courteous matter. Not so one man in Belgium’s northern region of Flanders. After he and his neighbour failed to agree on a disputed pocket of land, he climbed aboard a digger and uprooted the entire garden next door.

And that wasn’t all. As the Flanders News website reports: “He uprooted five pollard willows, damaged a number of other trees, destroyed a corn field, disrupted piles of stones, dug trenches, broke up the garden and – last but not least – buried a van under sand and trees.”

The website carried pictures of the van buried up to the windscreen in dirt, with mounds of rubble dotted across the garden, which had been transformed into a wasteland.

The exact nature of the dispute was not revealed, but it was reported to have rumbled on for years before the resident took to his excavator. Authorities in the municipality of Veurne have now began an official investigation.

While most people would not go to such extremes, neighbourly rows are the cause of much grief all over the world. A survey in the UK in 2011 found that almost one million people had moved house because of disagreements with their neighbours. The top bone of contention? Home and garden maintenance.