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The Planning Inspectorate has approved an application from the Herts and North Middlesex Wildlife Trust for fencing on Hunsdon Mead Common in Essex.
The trust applied to erect a permanent, 1,000-metre fence along the line of the towpath boundary of the common to prevent disturbance of sheep grazing the common.
We objected because the fence will separate the towpath from the rest of the common, yet the public has the right to walk over the whole area. The fence will have an adverse impact on the open nature of the area. Also we feared that the fencing will lead to conflicts between users on the towpath because the path is fairly narrow. We argued that the trust should aim to provide a hedge barrier and that any fencing should be temporary while the hedge was growing. We also argued that the height of the fence should be reduced.
The planning inspector, Richard Holland, who took the decision on behalf of the Secretary of State for Environment, approved the application but agreed with us that the fence should be limited to a maximum height of 1.05 metres.
Says Mr Ali Nihat, our local correspondent: ‘It is undoubtedly sad that a spot of such significance is to be fenced. However we hope that our insistence on a fence of only 1.05 metres will ensure that people still feel welcome on Hunsdon Mead and can appreciate it as is their right.’