Bricket Wood Common cattle grazing scheme defended

FEARS that dogs will be attacked and horses spooked by rare-breed cattle temporarily grazing on Bricket Wood Common have been rejected by visitors to the beauty spot.

There has been criticism over St Albans district council’s decision to introduce just four English Longhorns to help restore 12 hectares of protected heathland.

Rhoda Harrison, of Harpenden, said the council should not enclose common land “against the populace” and dog walkers would be deterred from using the area by the presence of cattle.

Her comments were echoed by a former Bricket Wood resident who said his horseriding friends struggled with the new gates on the enclosure, which have since been altered.

But James Sheehan of Park Street has applauded the council’s moves, saying that most fellow dog walkers he had met while walking his 11-month-old dog Henry on the common every day were “very happy to see the cows there”.

He added: “They appear to be doing a good job and it will be nice to see some more. They are really friendly and ignore most things.

“There are so many gates and entrances for walkers it would be impossible to be denied access.

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“I have walked this common for 30 years with dogs and I can see an improvement already. The only time I have had any trouble was by horse riders galloping around and this has now stopped.

“They have also been denied access by the fencing and this has improved the small footpaths that were churned up by horses not keeping to bridleways.”

Parish and district councillor for Colney Heath Jamie Day also commended the use of cattle to improve the land, rather than using chemicals.

He added that it would be an ideal way to maintain Colney Heath Common as it has, “a large area covered in hawthorn and gorse [which is] very hard and expensive to control by chemical or mechanical means.

“We have regular working parties digging out the hawthorn by hand, but it is a task akin to Canute’s holding back the waves.

“Enclosure is a very emotive word. I can ensure Ms Harrison and anyone else that Colney Heath parish council has no intention of ‘stealing’ the land or preventing access to the common.

“However we are charged with maintaining this wonderful asset and preserving it for future generations.”