Fight for Cumbrian commons

[ 0 ] May 24, 2017

Category: News, Notebook

Roman Fell from Murton Fell, common land at risk of deregistration

Roman Fell from Murton Fell, common land at risk of deregistration

Conservation groups are battling against Ministry of Defence plans to deregister a large tract of common land in the North Pennines Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

The MoD has applied to Cumbria County Council to have commons designations removed from three adjacent areas on its ranges north-east of Appleby-in-Westmorland, effectively turning them into private land, despite an undertaking given at a 2001 public inquiry to retain them as commons in perpetuity.

The plan is opposed by the Hilton Commoners’ Association, the Cumbria Federation of Commons, the Foundation for Common Land, the Friends of the Lake District, and the Open Spaces Society. They say it would result in the largest enclosure since the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, ending hundreds of years of traditional upland commoning; farmers would be denied any future opportunity to graze stock there.

The MoD bought grazing rights on the commons following the 2001 inquiry in Appleby. In return it improved access on Murton Common and undertook not to deregister the commons. It also agreed to new rights ensuring the commons would exist in perpetuity, which campaigners say were never delivered.

Cumbria contains around thirty-one per cent of England’s registered common land; the plan affects three per cent (11,120 acres/4,500 ha) of that. If approved, campaigners say, the land would lose protection against encroachment and development, which require Secretary of State for Environment consent in addition to planning permission.

An MoD spokesperson told Cumbria: “We have applied to de-register sections of the Warcop Training Area so that it can be used to provide more effective military training. Existing public footpath access will not be affected.” She said there were no plans to sell off any MOD land within the Warcop Training area.

The deadline for comments on the public consultation passed on May 22.

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