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We are delighted that the Planning Inspectorate has rejected an application for fencing of Thwaite Common, near Erpingham, six miles south of Cromer.
A year ago the Thwaite Common Management Committee, supported by North Norfolk District Council and Norfolk Wildlife Trust, applied to erect temporary fencing on three parts of the common, to enable the land to be grazed for long periods during the year. This was to improve the biodiversity of the common. The total length of fencing was to be 3,520 metres, more than two miles.
Some of the fencing was already in place even though it did not have consent.
We objected because the fencing made the open common into paddocks and it would restrict people’s right to walk over the whole area and interfere with their enjoyment.
We recalled a previous application for fencing here which was rejected in 1997 because of its adverse effect on the local distinctiveness of the open space. The society recommended that the committee instead look at alternative means of containing stock such as cattle-grids and invisible fencing.
The inspector, Mrs Helen Slade, visited the site in October and published her decision on 15 February. She has rejected the application. She noted that the fencing would restrict the right of free access to the common, interrupt its open nature and be detrimental to the conservation of the landscape. The fencing would run on both sides of the Weavers’ Way long-distance path which crosses the common, making a ‘channelling effect which is unlikely to be attractive to walkers’.
She also noted that the applicants had not given full consideration to the alternatives suggested by the Open Spaces Society and that there was insufficient evidence of the need for the fencing.
Says Ian Witham, our local correspondent for Norfolk: ‘I am particularly pleased that the inspector has recognised the importance of the distinctive, open character of Thwaite Common, and the extent to which that would have been harmed by the fencing proposal. I hope that the management committee and district council will now look at alternative options which are less damaging to this valuable feature of Norfolk’s heritage.’