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Equine Answers -Horse Supplements EXCLUSIVE

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The Governement should sycamore rider-friendly policy !

You can see from the size of him why I think we’ll have trouble with self-closing gates.

"You can see from the size of him why I think we’ll have trouble with self-closing gates."


"How can anyone with an animal who measures 10 feet from nose to tail, get him safely through a gate which starts to close on him from the second it’s opened ?" ............Sandra Smith

Thursley/Elstead/Royal/Ockley/Bagmoor Commons Fencing Plan

"SWT Ltd's plan is excessively weighted to an unproven conservation methodology, to the serious detriment of public access and public enjoyment of the contiguous commons as Public Open Space."

Says TERRACE: Thursley & Elstead Residents & Riders Against Commons Enclosure

What's going on on our commons?

The commons are under threat of enclosure by Surrey Wildlife Trust Limited

The commons are under threat of enclosure by Surrey Wildlife Trust LimitedTERRACE Action is opposing perimeter fencing of Thursley, Elstead, Royal, Ockley and Bagmoor Commons. Protecting the interests of horse riders, dog walkers, residents, cyclists, walkers and all who currently enjoy the Public Open Space of these commons now under threat from Surrey Wildlife Trust Ltd.'s enclosure plans.

This campaign is not anti-conservation. It is about trying to get a balance between public access and conservation. SWT Ltd.'s plan is excessively weighted to an unproven conservation methodology, to the serious detriment of public access and public enjoyment of the contiguous commons as Public Open Space.

Natural England, who have paid SWT to carry out this work, have a statutory duty to have an EQUAL REGARD for Public Access and Conservation.

Cattle will be grazed freely across all the commons. The commons will no longer be open spaces but accessed through pushchair, wheelchair, bicycle and horse unfriendly self-closing gates set into an unsightly, wire, perimeter fence. These gates are known to cause serious accidents (admitted in writing by SWT Ltd). Dog walkers will be required to keep their dogs either on leads (on the MOD land), or on the paths and beside owners for more than half the year on the Natural England land. SWT keep denying this but many Elstead people were at the meeting where the MoD announced their plan for 'Dog Zones'; they have not retracted the statement, and anyway, SWT have now posted their own 'dogs on SHORT LEADS' notices across the commons.

Surrey Wildlife Trust Limited says:
The MOD restrict the options for management to perimeter fencing.

We say:
The MOD only own 29% of the land. Why should a minority landowner be allowed to dictate what happens to the whole site? The MoD land could continue to be managed by mowing, as it has been for many years. The MoD's problem with temporary paddocks is a pretext for SWT to implement their 'enclose and graze' ideology. We know that the MoD are trying to reduce public access in this area; a scheme where someone else not only pays for fencing the land but takes the public flack for doing so is an absolute gift for them.

Surrey Wildlife Trust Limited says:
Management has to happen. Doing nothing is not an option.

We say:
Yes, but it doesn't have to require enclosure of the commons. Temporary enclosures for grazing, scrub cutting, pine tree felling and mowing are all recognised measures for lowland heath management. In any case, evidence (proper, scientific evidence, unlike the anecdotal reports relied on by SWT) is building that extensive grazing doesn't have the conservation benefits which are claimed. Natural England has (at last) committed to change it's HLS (Higher Level Stewardship) handbook for 2013 so that grazing is not the only option which can qualify for the funding. Why the rush to do it this year under the old rules which will have such an adverse impact on our commons?

Surrey Wildlife Trust Limited threatens:
If this plan isn't implemented, Natural England has the power to take over the commons from the landowner.

We say:
Natural England own 70% of it anyway! Should we worry if Natural England have to beat themselves up? The MoD have most of the rest; the dominant tenement for which they hold their land is Military Training and no-one can force them to do anything which detracts from that.

Surrey Wildlife Trust Limited says:
60% of the perimeter is already fenced. All existing access points will be retained.

We say:
That makes the surviving 40% even more precious, where people can wander on and off the commons at will, and enjoy the sense of relaxation and freedom this brings. Your rights to use the commons (MoD land excepted) are not limited to the Public Rights of Way, but are defined by the Law of Property Act 1925 (section 193) which says that 'Members of the Public shall have rights of air and exercise to any land which is so deemed ' - 'Air and exercise' has been confirmed by the courts as relating to walkers and horse riders. SWT's planned access points are footpaths and bridleways only, not the informal access points which we have all enjoyed for many years.

SWT say:
We have to graze to control Molinia (moor grass).

We say:
Molina is becoming more prevalent on the commons; most noticeably in the area between Bridleway 504 (which runs up to the Moat) and Bridleway 69 (that's the one which runs parallel to the Thursley road and is obstructed and unusable. The reason for this increase was Natural England's informal agreement with the MoD, that they would cease the annual maintenance of the drainage ditches. Apart from rendering two popular public rights of way impassable, this has created an ideal environment for Molinea, which in turn creates a argument for the need to graze cattle, which leads in turn to the need for perimeter fencing. Is it incompetence or is it conspiracy ?

What Can I do ?

Sign our online petition

Like us on Facebook

Keep an eye on the Planning Inspectorate web site

To see when SWT Ltd. put in their application for fencing and then please write and object. If you want to see what we're in for, follow the Chobham Common public inquiry link (under Section 38 on the Planning Inspectorate site), also an SWT Ltd. project.

Write to:
Surrey County Council ACCESS FORUM Secretary of the Forum at Room 365, County Hall, Kingston upon Thames KT1 2DY or email: and ask them NOT to support this plan

I pine for a more sensible approach to saving our forests

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