Grazing row chewed over by lawyers

PUBLISHED: 11:58 14 February 2008 | UPDATED: 12:57 06 May 2010

LEGAL advice is being sought by St Albans District Council about the controversial issue of grazing cattle on two local commons. The plans for Nomansland Common in Wheathampstead and Bricket Wood Common have been put on the back-burner because it is under

LEGAL advice is being sought by St Albans District Council about the controversial issue of grazing cattle on two local commons.

The plans for Nomansland Common in Wheathampstead and Bricket Wood Common have been put on the back-burner because it is understood that the council needs to establish ancient common ownership laws.

The Countryside Management Service (CMS) and the district council want to graze animals on the commons because both sites are rare lowland heaths and it is thought to be the best form of management for such areas.

At last week's meeting of the Nomansland Common Joint Management Committee, the public were left angry and baffled that discussions about the proposal to fence off areas of the common to allow cattle to roam had been missed off the agenda.

They arrived at the meeting in the district council chamber, anxious to hear the results of the council's consultation on the matter, as promised at the previous meeting.

John Stocker, who lives at Nomansland and who opposes the plans along with many others in the area, attended the meeting and said that they were told the council still needed to consult more people on the matter, but they refused to disclose whom.

Mr Stocker had carried out his own consultation and found all but four of 300 responses were fervently against the proposal.

He is also angry that plans to fell around 60 healthy trees on Ferrers Lane, Wheathampstead, to allow further cultivation of the heathland, have been agreed without any discussion with the public.

He said: "This proposal was queried by several of the public and committee, particularly in the present global policy of tree preservation. The Green Spaces Officer and the CMS representatives were requested to review this proposal but stated, "sorry, too late, the decision has been made and the contract has been let".

A district council spokesperson confirmed this week that they were seeking counsel's advice on the issue of grazing on both Nomansland and Bricket Wood Common but declined to comment on why the action was needed.

She also maintained that the tree felling was part of the Joint Management Committee's winter work and an on-going management plan, "to save the lowland heath, manage the common to optimise bio diversity and carry out health and safety work".

There are also plans to graze animals on Colney Heath common which have been met with strong opposition.

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