We are sorry that the Planning Inspectorate has approved two miles of fencing alongside the east side of the Allendale/Carrshield road in Northumberland, in the North Pennines Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.
Such works need the consent of the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs under section 38 of the Commons Act 2006. The application was made by the Allendale Stinted Pasture Graziers’ Association, in connection with a Higher Level Stewardship Scheme (HLS) for grazing the common in the interests of biodiversity.
The society objected because the proposed fence would be an eyesore in the landscape, and fencing on both sides of the road would create a tunnel effect. The public has the right to walk over the whole common and we considered that the fence would be a physical and psychological barrier, despite there being access points. The society advocated slowing the traffic not fencing the common.
The casework officer, Mr Richard Holland, disagreed. He considered that the common would for the most part remain open, and that the fence would not affect the landscape.
This is a disappointing decision. We firmly believe that commons should remain open and unenclosed, for public access and because they are a vital part of the landscape. It’s time that highway authorities recognised that traffic should be slowed rather than commons fenced.
It is also a pity that this case was almost a foregone conclusion because those administering the HLS required grazing and they advocated fencing without even consulting the Open Spaces Society. We are discussing with Natural England, which manages HLS agreements, how we can be involved at an early stage in future.