Fencing idea for common

PONIES and cattle grazing could soon be a familiar sight for walkers on Woodbury Common.

But, as a trade-off, swathes of land could be fenced off to help manage the land for the public in the future.

Without careful management, it is said the heathlands would deteriorate into scrub and the habitat, its rare animal and plant species would be lost forever.

So The Pebblebeds Heaths Conservation Trust, the RSPB, Natural England and the East Devon AONB are to draw up an action plan and want the public to help out.

A report last year recommended that controlled burning and grazing should continue, while the best way to contain animals to keep them off the main roads should be examined.

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Proposals so far include fencing on three areas complete with public access gates and cattle grids. The grids could be installed on the lane across Hawkerland Common and on the land between Yettington and the Lympstone Common roundabout, across East Budleigh and Bicton Commons.

Fencing, says the report, would be ‘generally unobtrusive’ – but concerns have been raised that fencing along the B3180 could impact on the landscape.

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County highways chiefs are also referred to as being ‘reluctant’ to see cattle grids on main roads because of road safety concerns.

Lesley Kerry, who wrote the report, said`: “There have been temporary grazed enclosures on Colaton Raleigh Common for 10 years and the proposal here is to increase these to five, but with only two fenced and grazed at any one time.

“These enclosures would be installed in the same way as they have in the past, with electric fencing and access points, and would meet the concerns of those who wanted to see open views maintained across the valley from the B3180 without any permanent fencing, and those who are nervous of walking across areas with free-ranging stock.”

The report adds that cattle could graze in the summer months alongside a ‘small number’ of ponies.

She added: “Grazing animals for extensive grazing would be traditional, docile breeds, which ignore people and dogs.

“Let us have your views, as we are keen to obtain the widest possible consensus for a scheme that will provide the greatest benefits for the commons, their wildlife and the people who use and value them.”

If you want to make your views known e-mail lesley.kerry@footprint-ecology.co.uk

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