A friend living about a mile away told me: "I know the farmer who owns the land above the tunnel. Some years ago a well-dressed civil servant knocked on his door and tried to give him back the tunnel, after borrowing the land since 1831. Sensibly, the farmer declined such generosity." He also told me there had been suggestions to use the tunnel as a rifle range, or as a mushroom farm, but "So far I believe its only use was for an illegal acid house party, whatever that is."
My "traveller" friends said that there had been attempts, resisted at meetings in the Wootton Fitzpaine village hall, to buy the tunnel and perhaps use it for storing hazardous substances; that the land "owned" above went down only to a certain depth of feet, therefore included the air in the top of the tunnel but not the floor of it; that the roadway in the cutting itself couldn't be sold because it couldn't be registered; that the West Dorset authorities "keep in touch with us, they're glad to have us here."
But later I found they had gone. And a newspaper article of April 2006 said the tunnel, with surrounding area amounting to five acres, had been bought six months earlier by Clist Properties of Charmouth. Mr. Richard Clist said the area had been tidied up and "offers huge potential development . . . Options to lease or rent will be considered". A list of suggested uses included "a des res for bats, a mushroom farm and a wind tunnel for extreme sports . . . an eco-friendly subterranean home with glass panels at either end; nightclub; Heritage Centre for the Jurassic Coast with mono rail; rifle range; offices and document storage centre; restaurant; wine store; animal sanctuary for moles, badgers and rabbits (as suggested by Charmouth school pupils); land fill site; giant bird hide; aquarium; commercial light industrial units; travellers site; scrapyard." The British Earth Sheltering Association was approached for assistance in design; members of the public were invited to give opinions at www.thetunnel.co.uk.