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We have joined the British Horse Society and over 120 other local objectors in opposing plans by West Berkshire Council to fence Padworth Common, west of Mortimer in West Berkshire. The council, which owns the land, wants to graze livestock there to improve the biodiversity and has applied to the Planning Inspectorate for consent for works on common land.
We are dismayed that the council does not recognise that horse-riders have rights over the whole common, yet it states that the land is subject to section 193 of the Law of Property Act 1925 which gives rights of access to horse-riders.
The fencing would conflict with those rights, severely reducing public access for riders and walkers and forcing them onto the dangerous Rectory Road and Reading Road which adjoin the common.
Furthermore, the fencing will be an eyesore and we are not convinced that it will achieve the desired result. It would be far better for the council to have a temporary enclosure to test whether it works.
We are also concerned that the fence will divide up the common, leaving parts outside the fence and at risk of being neglected.
The fencing would have an adverse effect on the public interest, and in particular on public rights of access across this wonderful common.
So we have urged the Planning Inspectorate to reject this ill-thought-out scheme.