AN ANIMAL loving family have been told they must leave their rented home of ten years so owners UK Coal can clear part of its £243m of debt.
Devastated Teresa and Steve Cater, of Bell Lane, Smalley, were given notice to move out of their rented home by May 5.
The property is one of three in Smalley owned by the mining company, which it is selling.
UK Coal has said the family could buy the three-bedroomed bungalow, set in a large garden, but the Caters say they cannot afford to.
The couple, who have an 18-year-old daughter Amy, have taken in several unwanted and abandoned animals over the years and have spent thousands adapting the house to care for them – including building an aviary, horse stables and greenhouses which Mr Cater says he will demolish before they leave.
This week the family put down their ten-year-old sheep, Minty, and think their Rottweiler, Chloe, will also have to be put to sleep as the two older animals were in ill-health and would not have been able to make the move.
They also had to find new homes and sanctuaries for a barn owl, a kune kune pig, three cats and a pony as well as another dog, fearing they will not be able to house them in a new smaller home and gardens.
Teresa, 37, said: “My first feeling was of shock. We are big animal lovers and have taken in lots over the years. We don’t know where we are going and what entitlement with pets we are going to have.
“We are trying our best to re-home them all now before we find ourselves homeless.”
The family have been on a month-to-month tenancy agreement, which states the coal company can give them two months to vacate the premises if it requires the home back.
UK Coal, which is operating the opencast site in Smalley, says it will offer the tenants a chance to buy their homes at a ‘commercial value’.
But the Caters say they have not been given a price and would not be able to get a mortgage at such short notice.
They are now looking for rented accommodation nearby because daughter Amy works full time at a farm in Mapperley and cycles to work every day.
A UK Coal spokesperson said of the houses: “We have served notices on a number of properties across the country. We are hoping this will safeguard the jobs of our miners and other employees.
“UK Coal are offering relocation support to the tenants affected. If they have not heard anything so far they should contact UK Coal.
“The houses were rented to tenants at a favourable rate in the knowledge that at some point in the future we would be using the houses to sell.”