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Aaron Taylor-Johnson, the reported new James Bond, accused of improperly building a lake on his English estate

Martha Ross – The Mercury News (TNS)

It’s doubtful that James Bond would let his local village officials stop him from making any kind of improvements to his historic U.K. home, especially if he needed to create a private lake in his back yard so he could practice boat chases or rescues of Bond girls drowning in Venetian canals.

But Aaron Taylor-Johnson isn’t James Bond yet, and he and his director wife are feeling the wrath of officials in their village in southwest England for digging an acre-sized hole on their farm to build their own private lake, according to The Telegraph.

The Telegraph reported that the Taylor-Johnsons’ 16th-century farmhouse and rural estate lie in what’s known as “a Site of Special Scientific Interest” in Somerset, England. This is a formal conservation designation which usually describes an area that may be home to a rare species of fauna or flora or because it contains important or unique geological features.

Aaron and Sam Taylor-Johnson recently submitted a retrospective planning application, in the hope of getting permission to restart the work, The Telegraph said. They said they needed the lake in order to protect their farmhouse from flooding. During storms, water tends to run down their property and leaves their five-bedroom home, studio, barn and guesthouse vulnerable to flooding. Since they bought the farmhouse in 2011, it has flooded every year, The Telegraph reported.

They also argue that the new wetland they create could boost the biodiversity of wildlife in the area, by becoming home to newts, water voles, otters, badgers and bats, The Telegraph reported.

The Taylor-Johnsons’ lake project has divided the community near scenic Bruton in Somerset, a county in southwest England, according to The Telegraph. On one hand, some residents complain that the celebrity couple want to create a large lake for recreational open-water swimming and have been irked by the noise and mess caused by the excavation work. One neighbor complained about the “eyesore” of the giant hole, which she can see from her bedroom window.

“We had no idea they were going to do it, and I can’t believe they went ahead without permission,” the woman, Jackie Inch, told The Telegraph. “The hole has just got bigger and bigger.”

But another neighbor told The Telegraph that they are happy about the promise of increased biodiversity and have already noticed an uptick in bird activity, presumably from storm run-off that collects in the crater. The Taylor-Johnsons’ planning expert has urged the Somerset council to make a ruling on their application as soon as possible so that they have the lake built before the “2024 storm events.”

Meanwhile, as officials consider their application, Sam Taylor-Johnson, 56, will be promoting the new Amy Winehouse biopic “Back to Black,” that she directed. The film is due to be released later this month. As for her husband, he could be busy preparing to replace Daniel Craig in the Bond franchise.

The Sun reported last month that Eon Productions, which has made most of the Bond films in the series adapted from Ian Fleming’s novels, had offered Taylor-Johnson the role of 007. If the actor, known for his roles in “Kick-Ass” and “Nocturnal Animals,” signed a contract, he could start filming the 26th Bond film this year.

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