Support us from £3/month
We deal with almost 1000 cases a year assisting communities, groups and individuals in protecting their local spaces and paths in all parts of England and Wales. Can you help us by joining as a member?
The Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, has allowed fencing on Champion Moss in the Forest of Bowland Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, Lancashire but has limited the consent to ten years.
The application was made by Mr Thomas Woodcock of Slaidburn for the erection of stock-proof fencing around 11 acres of common land at Champion Moss, two miles east of Slaidburn. Mr Woodcock owns the land and wishes to create an enclosure where he can graze sheep at a low stocking-density.
The objectors included the Open Spaces Society, the Forest of Bowland Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, Lancashire Wildlife Trust and East Lancashire Ornithologists’ Club.
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.
Moreover, the applicant failed to follow the recommended process of consultation, advocated by the Open Spaces Society, the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs and the Planning Inspectorate and set out in A Common Purpose. The options were not fully explored. 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.
The application was determined by an inspector from the Planning Inspectorate, Mr Richard Holland. He agreed with the Forest of Bowland AONB that ‘a new line of stock fencing across the open landscape is likely to be intrusive and to reverse to some extent the gains made by the recent removal of overhead power-lines’. He considered that ‘the proposed fencing will detract from the appearance of the landscape and fail to conserve the natural beauty of the AONB’.
However, the inspector decided to approve the fencing but as a compromise has allowed it only for a trial period of ten years, to see whether the applicant’s grazing plan will work.
While we were opposed to any new fencing here, at least it is not permanent and we can hope for its removal in ten years’ time.