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Concern over fencing plan in Forest of Bowland
3:00pm Sunday 10th March 2013 in News
WILDLIFE and common land organisations are ‘very concerned’ about plans to erect fencing on an area of outstanding natural beauty.
Lancashire Wildlife Trust believe the changes to Champion Moss in the Forest of Bowland could severely damage its population of endangered birds, while the Open Spaces Society, a pressure group for protecting common land, believes the public has a right to access the area.
Farmer Lucinda Woodcock, of Slaidburn, has been granted planning permission to put stock-proof fencing around 11 acres she owns, to create an enclosure where she can graze sheep.
Permission has been granted for the fencing to stand for a ten-year period.
Mrs Woodcock said: “No one walks on the land because it’s completely unsafe.
“There are lots of ditches and pools of stagnant water caused by drains put in in the past.
“Without animals eating the grass, it has become overgrown and dangerous.
“I’m hoping that having sheep on the land will make it safe for people to walk on once again and I am going to fit a gate to allow people access to the area.
“It may well improve the landscape for birds, because as it is they can’t see their enemy in the overgrowth, so they don’t stay here.
“Natural England agree with me on this and are fully supporting the plans.
“If anybody’s concerned about the way I farm, they can come and take a look.”
But Kate Ashbrook, general secretary of the Open Spaces Society, said: “We objected because the fence will subdivide the common and be a physical and psychological barrier to public access.
“The public has the right to walk over the whole area.
“The fence will intrude on the landscape and the view, and we strongly disagreed with the applicant’s allegations that it would not do so.
“We felt that there might well be other ways of achieving the desired outcome which did not impinge on people’s enjoyment of the land and its surroundings.”
Alan Wright, of Lancashire Wildlife Trust, said: “Irreparable damage could be done in one year, let alone ten, we are very concerned about it.
“Red grouse and hen harriers, both endangered birds, could be decimated in the area.
“Fences provide perfect perches for crows to scour the landscape for smaller birds they will prey on.
“Sheep can over graze and leave nothing for other animals to feed on.
“We understand that the farmer needs to make a living, but we urge her, please don’t have too many sheep or leave them on one patch for too long, because the fallout for other wildlife could be devastating.”