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We are dismayed that the Welsh Government has allowed the Brecon Beacons National Park Authority to retain a four-mile fence across open country in the heart of the national park.
The fence was erected on common land as an emergency measure during the foot-and-mouth epidemic of 2001 and it should have been removed by 2006.
In 2005 the park authority applied to the environment minister for retrospective consent for works on common land, under section 194 of the Law of Property Act 1925. The minister refused this in 2008. The authority failed to remove the fence and instead reapplied to the Welsh Government which has now permitted the fence to remain.
The fence runs from just south of Beacons Reservoir, at the junction of the A470 and A4059, south west for four miles to the northern end of the Hepste valley.
Says Kate Ashbrook, our general secretary: ‘We are angry that the Welsh Government has authorised this unlawful fence. The decision letter gives no good reasons for doing so, other than that a long time has elapsed since refusal of consent in 2008 and the government does not believe that the concerns expressed by Welsh ministers in 2008, about the effect of the fence on the neighbourhood and those with rights of access to the common, have materialised.
‘It seems that the government has no positive reason for allowing it, merely no negative reason which it considers justifies refusing it. That seems a grossly inadequate ground for allowing such a long fence, in one of Wales’s top landscapes.
‘So we do not believe the Welsh Government has justified its decision to allow the fence. It is an eyesore in this grand landscape and restricts public access—the public has the right to walk over the whole area.
‘We consider that nothing has changed since the Welsh minister refused consent in 2008, on grounds which included the fact that the fence is a barrier to public access.
‘When the Ramblers complained about the fence initially to the then environment minister Sue Essex in 2002, she said: “The firm intention is that the fences are to remain only for as long as they are required and definitely no longer than five years”. How sad that Welsh ministers have reneged on that firm intention.’