A bid to erect fence to keep sheep off a road in a protected area has been approved, despite opposition from an open spaces charity.
The Graziers’ Association – Allendale Stinted Pasture in Northumberland sought to be allowed to erect two miles of fence to keep animals off a road within the North Pennines Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB). However, the Open Spaces Society objected, claiming the fence would be an eyesore and would block access to common land.
Now, however, a government planning inspector has sided with the association.
Member Thomas Johnson, of Low Greenley Cleugh Farm, Ninebanks, applied to be allowed to put up the fence, which would include seven points of access to the common land.
The fence is needed as sheep often wander onto the Allendale to Carrshield road, with some having been hit by cars and either killed outright or left for dead, in addition to posing a safety risk to drivers.
The association’s application, part of a Higher Level Stewardship Scheme, was supported by Hexham MP Guy Opperman while Natural England and landowner the Viscount Allendale raised no objections.
However, the society, a statutory consultee on such applications, objected claiming the fence would be visually intrusive within the AONB, and that it would prove a physical and psychological barrier to the common land despite the presence of the access points. The society called for reduction in speed limit to tackle the problem of sheep being hit by cars. However, government planning inspector Richard Holland has now backed the association, allowing the fence to be erected.
Mr Johnson, 76, who farms with son Timothy, last night voiced his anger at the society’s objection.
“It in no way affected them but they had to put their oar in,” he told the Journal. “I do not see how the open spaces can call themselves a charity. Their objection has resulted in a lot of people not being able to keep sheep on the moor. There has been serious accidents on that road. We have already had cars off that road on more than one occasion. There has been about four sheep killed this year.”
Kate Ashbrook, general secretary of the society, said: “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.”