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We are delighted that the environment secretary has rejected plans for more than half a mile of fencing on Westerdale Common in the North York Moors National Park.
Last year the Graziers of High Blakey Moor applied to the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, via the Planning Inspectorate, for consent to fence the common. Westerdale Common is grazed by sheep and managed for grouse, and the fence was allegedly to prevent sheep straying. The fence would have been on open country between Danby and Rosedale. The minister’s consent is needed for works on common land.
We objected because the fence would be an eyesore in the national park and would exclude walkers and riders from the land where they have the right to go.
The landowner, British Horse Society, Ramblers, North York Moors National Park Authority, Natural England, Historic England and Danby Group Parish Council were among those who expressed concerns.
The planning inspector, Susan Doran, rejected the application. She considered that there were no potential benefits to nature conservation, and that the fencing would be visible in the open landscape. She believed that the graziers should follow the usual practice of hefting the sheep so that they remain in particular areas, with traffic management to reduce speeding along Blakey Road which runs across the common.
She concluded that the fence ‘would have a significantly detrimental effect on the character and openness of Westerdale Common’ and that the application ‘lacks factual evidence to support the reasons given for it’.
We are delighted with this outcome. We believe the fence would have been a physical and psychological barrier to walkers and riders and inappropriate across open country in a national park.