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Consent granted for grazing Chobham Common
The Planning Inspectorate, on behalf of the Secretary of State for the Environment, has consented to a proposal to erect five temporary electric fenced enclosures on Chobham Common, following a Public Inquiry in April. Surrey Wildlife Trust (SWT) is pleased that this decision will allow important grazing management to be undertaken on this National Nature Reserve (which it manages on behalf of Surrey County Council).
Grazing is one form of management, together with mowing, controlled burning and turf stripping, which is being carefully monitored by an external consultant, to both compare and quantify its effects on the biodiversity of the Common. SWT has used grazing on a limited scale, using small numbers of cattle, on Chobham Common for the last 3 summers, with encouraging results.
The areas to be grazed are those largely dominated by grass, as experience has shown that these areas will gain the greatest improvement in biodiversity. Chobham Common is now the only site in Surrey where the beautiful marsh gentian can be found and this species, in particular, will benefit when the more dominant grasses are reduced by grazing.
Consent for the temporary fencing is time limited to 4 years and grazing (with the Trust’s own cattle) will only take place during the months of March through to October; outside this period the fencing will be removed. Access will be maintained where footpaths and informal paths occur with gates that can be used by horse riders. Fence lines will not cross any regularly-used or agreed horse riding routes or Public Bridleways.
The number of cattle, and the time they spend on site, will be kept under close scrutiny and reviewed annually. A maximum of 2 ‘exemption enclosures’, covering no more than 10 hectares, will continue to be used to target and improve smaller areas of the Common’s heathland, that would not otherwise benefit from the grazing, being outside of the 5 larger compartments.
SWT notes the conditions attached to the Inspector’s judgement – to graze with Belted Galloway cattle, without calves, and to use gates compliant with the British Standard. The Trust is happy to implement these conditions.
Steve Fry, SWT Senior Ranger, says: “The Trust is eager to continue to listen and respond to visitors’ comments and remain actively engaged with all members of the Chobham Common Liaison Group. Hopefully visitors will enjoy seeing the cattle, as they did through the 1990’s, and notice – and benefit from - the improvement to the wildlife on the Common.”
|Date published:||Wednesday 01 August 2012|