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Says Adrienne Yentis

Says Adrienne YentisA friend of mine recently was riding on the heath
and she came across a group of cattle strung out across the bridlepath with no way through – the only way off was to turn round. Fortunately her horse
remained calm throughout. But you can imagine how a nervous horse might react ........... read more

Old Commons

Maureen Comber writes

"There is no scientific evidence that grazing is best for these old commons"

Says Maureen Comber

Says Maureen ComberPlease may I know if you have been correctly briefed over the legal status of these ancient commons, the rights of the commoners and access by the public for 'air and exercise', this includes horse riders?

You will see the importance of the Law of Property Act 1925 sec. 193 and (194 now replaced by sec 38 CA 2006 in my email below. However fencing is prevented by many other Acts as well.

Consultation cannot replace the sovereignty of Parliament especially if it is inaccurate and not complete.

Common land has been preserved over the centuries because the owner, if there is one, cannot fence it because of the rights of the commoners, the latter cannot fence it because they do not own it.Take this self governing balance away and you not only leave the common open to misuse because it is not so easily accessed from all points, but the open character of the landscape is changed forever.

These lowland commons were not considered grazing commons like the Lake District or those in Wales so are not usually associated with farming or agricultural grazing, but were used more for the surrounding villages and the peasant economy such as estovers, turbary, pannage etc.

There is no scientific evidence that grazing is best for these old commons. Take the pencils away from the Wildlife Trusts and give them a scythe instead. Whatever, fencing commons under the law and successive Acts of Parliament over the centuries, is a no no.

Please see my email to NE below.

"I am astonished that your organisation continues to promote incorrect and unlawful advice to our local councillors "

To Francesca Green, Adviser, Natural England Enquiries Team - Customer Services Natural England

With regard to your email, it is now just about four weeks since I wrote to the Executive Director and Executive Board and no response has been forthcoming.

I attach an agenda for a meeting held at Hants CC, which I was not notified of and like others had no chance of attending or speaking. The agenda is attached and you will see that it concerns the enclosure of lowland commons, etc, one of the subjects I covered in my letter to you dated 28th August 2013.

Please may I know whether the Executive Director and his Board are aware of this meeting and whether they agree with me that the enclosure of our common land by this underhand means is right or fair, open or transparent?

Shortheath Common also has commoners. Like Yately it is vested with, rather than owned by Hampshire County Council as it forms part of the Bordon areas' extensive common lands. It was formerly vested with the MOD before being passed to HCC. Because of its ancient origin and the rights of commoners this common is protected by sec 193 and 194 of the LPA 1925. This means that horse riders also have the right to 'air and exercise' on this common land.

I would therefore say that the Chairman and Councillors have not been correctly briefed by the officers and are not therefore in any position to consider applications like these.

At the consultation stage I made it known that I thought they were incorrect, firstly in not having consulted the commoners as the only people with a legal interest in the soil, and the fact that this common like the others is protected by s193/194 LPA 1925. They argued point blank that I was wrong and quite obviously did not want to hear my protestations.

I note in the agenda the intention to fund their proposals through the ELS, HLS schemes and Whitehill/Bordon Development, developer funding mitigation. As I explained in my letter to you and repeated here for convenience:

“Measures under the EC Rural Development Policy are only available for applicants engaged in 'farming', and are therefore inapplicable if a common is not put to an agricultural use. The determining factor here is the economic use to which commoners put their rights, rather than the nature of the rights themselves - only common rights holders who are registered as farmers for the receipt of European Community subsidies can claim agri-environment payments under schemes such as ESA, ELS or HLS. It follows that agri-environment schemes such as HLS have no potential application for the management of 'recreational' commons or those whose primary feature is (paradoxically) their high nature value rather than their value as an agricultural resource." (Rodgers)

I am astonished that your organisation continues to promote incorrect and unlawful advice to our local councillors, especially since you have not yet responded to my letter of 28th August 2013, which particularly drew to your attention the methods employed by your staff, for funding the fencing of our common land.

An explanation is required as soon as possible please?

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