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We are dismayed that the environment secretary has approved a land swap to allow a cycle track and footway to be driven across the historic Beverley Westwood Common in the East Riding of Yorkshire.
The society was among the objectors at a public hearing held on 13 October. East Riding of Yorkshire Council proposed to construct a footway and cycle track on the common and was required by law (section 16 of the Commons Act 2006) to provide suitable land in exchange. The council offered the site of the former Fishwick Mill on the east side of the common. The matter was determined on behalf of the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs by planning inspector Mr Michael Lowe.
The Open Spaces Society, East Yorkshire and Derwent Area Ramblers, Beverley and District Civic Society and two residents objected to the swap, principally because the replacement land is already designated as public-access land and has been used and enjoyed for informal recreation for decades.
Says Kate Ashbrook, our general secretary: ‘We are deeply disappointed at this result. While Mr Lowe conceded that the proposal “will have some adverse impact on the landscape”, he considered that the replacement land was suitable.
‘While we do not oppose the cycle track and footway, we argue that, since people already enjoy the replacement land for recreation, we have gained nothing from the swap, and we lose some of our precious common. However, we congratulate all those who took part in the inquiry in defence of the common; they put up a good fight.’