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The Open Spaces Society, Ramblers Cymru and other organisations are delighted that a four-and-a-half-mile fence, the ‘Gap Road’ fence, across the fine open landscape of the Brecon Beacons National Park, has been removed after a six-year campaign.
The fence, which crossed common land, was unlawful because it did not have the Welsh Government’s consent. It was erected by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs under emergency provisions during the foot-and-mouth epidemic in 2001, for five years only. It should have been removed by 2006 but was not.
The fence ran from near Pontsticill Reservoir in the south, crossing the hillside via Upper Neuadd Reservoir, passing just to the east of the famous summits of Pen y Fan and Cribyn, crossing the Gap Road and then cutting down through Cwm Cynwyn.
The Open Spaces Society and Ramblers Cymru repeatedly lobbied the Welsh Government and the Brecon Beacons National Park Authority to remove the fence, because of its damaging effect on the landscape and the public’s right to walk there.
In 2009 the Brecon Beacons Commoners’ Association applied to the Welsh Government for consent, under section 194 of the Law of Property Act 1925, to legitimise the fence, but the Welsh Government rejected this in 2011. Now the Welsh Government has removed the fence.
However, there is a further unlawful fence at Manor Penderyn which has not yet been removed. 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. The Brecon Beacons National Park Authority has applied for consent from the Welsh Government, whose decision is awaited.
Says Kate Ashbrook, our general secretary: ‘It is excellent that the unlawful Gap Road fence has at last been removed. We fought for years for this to happen because the fence divided the commons and intruded on the landscape and was a physical and psychological barrier to public access and enjoyment.’
Adds Chris Playford, the Ramblers’ footpath secretary for Brecknock: ‘This is excellent news. At long last one of these unsightly fences has been removed. I hope this will give added impetus for the remaining fences to be taken down.’
Angela Charlton, director of Ramblers Cymru, concurs: ‘Ramblers Cymru are delighted that access has been restored to this area of common in the Brecon Beacons. We were part of the campaign to remove the fence and we are pleased that it will finally be a reality after six years.’