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We are disappointed that the Secretary of State for Environment has approved an application for fencing on Hednesford Hills Common on the north-east side of Cannock in Staffordshire. We objected to this application, along with the British Horse Society and individuals.
Cannock Chase Council applied to erect permanent stockproof fencing around two areas of the common, with gates and stiles. The plan is to allow grazing of the land for the restoration of heathland.
We recognise the benefit of grazing heathland commons, but said that the fencing will enclose significant areas, giving a paddock effect. Horse-riders have rights of access over the whole common but the access points in the fencing are not appropriate for horse-riders. The common is well used by local people, being close to Cannock, and is fringed with housing on all sides. It is popular with people of all ages and fencing, especially with barbed wire, is particularly inappropriate.
Mr Richard Holland, a planning inspector acting on behalf of the environment secretary, granted consent but only for 20 years. He also specified that before grazing begins signs must be installed and retained informing visitors when cattle are grazing in the fenced areas.
Says Harry Scott, our local correspondent for Staffordshire: ‘We are disappointed at this decision. We feel the inspector did not give sufficient weight to our arguments, nor to the submission from horse-riders that their rights on the common will be adversely affected. However, we are glad that the consent is only for 20 years and not permanent.’