Says Naomi Smith
It is all too possible to round a corner on horseback and come upon a group of cattle with no prior warning -this WILL result in a horse being badly spooked at best, bolting at worst -it is only a matter of time ........... read more
National Heathland Conference
"No national or local access group interested in heathland management were either notified or had sufficient knowledge of the conference in time to book a place,"
Says Bob Milton
This week saw saw the start of the National Heathland Conference in Sunningdale run by Surrey Wildlife Trust with sponsorship from Natural England and others. As you know I and others interested in heathland but from the public access point of view have tried over the last two weeks to get a place as we only found out at this late date by accident. It seems that no national or local access group interested in heathland management were either notified or had sufficient knowledge of the conference in time to book a place, despite the intense interest in heathland management and the imposition of grazing to meet Higher Level Stewardship requirements and funding. It is important to remember that over 95% of lowland heaths have public access on foot and over 55% on horse as a result of them being registered common land of these 50% of the pedestrian access is by permission on MoD training areas and the rest and the equestrian access is by right a mixture of legislation including s193, CA1899, NPAC1949 and private Acts.
I did try this morning to see if there had been any cancellations or to gain access as an observer even if I paid but was politely refused entry. What was promised by Sara JaneChimbabwana during her polite refusal was that the conference papers would be available for a fee but would need to be requested but supply was not guaranteed.
I would suggest that all those that are interested in what is going on seek to get copies of the papers especially those regarding grazing and access. There has been no published evidence since the EN report 422 in 2002 other than the BournemouthUniversity peer review 2008 and the 2003 Ashdown Forest report r535. It is important to note especially with the r535 report that no mention is given with regard to the effect on public access especially equestrians.
Two things regarding Ashdown Forest have since happened the first is that as a result of the gating of equestrian access routes across the forest there was a fatal accident and a reduction of equestrian access as was seen at Headley Heath [NT] and the Ashdown Conservators with NE have decided to introduce internal fencing for short term intensive grazing as extensive grazing for which the fencing was granted permission has not been successful. It has also been noticed that where ever grazing has been introduced on lowland heaths be it MoD training areas such as Beacon Hill Farnham, Greenham common West Berks, Owlsmoor Common Camberley there is, as elsewhere on the Thames Basin Heaths and the Dorset Heaths and others, a rapid spread of gorse with the increase in fire risk and loss of heathland.
It is clear from EN r623 by John Day  that ENs and so one has to deduce NE aim is to reduce fires, cats and dogs as well as the public. Buglife's lowland heath report [153 not available for down load] states that " …horseriding ….should be controlled on heathland sites" This is direct conflict with equestrian rights.
I look forward to getting a copy of the conference papers and to read how the conflict between users and conservationists (for this read reintroduction, re-creation and restoration] has or is to be managed or mitigated.
Commented Maureen Comber
This state of affairs is typical of the way these unaccountable and unelected Quangos' conduct themselves despite the fact that they work for us and are paid for the most part by the public purse.
Says Maureen Comber
This state of affairs is typical of the way these unaccountable and unelected Quangos' conduct themselves despite the fact that they work for us and are paid for the most part by the public purse. To the ordinary man they also raise a doubt as to the effective governance of our elected members in overseeing the Executive and holding them to account for actions such as the secret meeting.
It also raises a question as to whether the much vaunted policies of Localism and the Big Society is actually just another Conservative gimmick? This in my view is a shame particularly in the run up to what will be, by all accounts, a close run result in the coming General Election.
It could even be, that those affected may be tempted to think that in order to get transparency, clarity and accountability from the Executive, which there can be no doubt needs down sizing, we will in future have to rely on UKIP? Hopefully there is time yet to put these matters right?
Says Linda Wright
We moved to a Shropshire location a year ago having surveyed the local OS map and noted the significant number of bridleways around the property. Sadly the map appears a total fiction. Scarce any of the bridleways are usable ........... read more