15th September 2010
From Ian McNeil Cooke, Co-ordinator – Save Penwith Moors
Men-an-Tol Studio, Bosullow, Penzance
Cornwall TR20 8NR
SAVE PENWITH MOORS and NATURAL ENGLAND
EUROPEAN ENVIRONMENTAL DIRECTIVES
During May 2010 the Co-ordinator of Save Penwith Moors submitted a dossier to the Parliamentary Ombudsman – via our Member of Parliament – alleging that Natural England had failed to implement legally binding articles of the Aarhus Convention and subsequent European Directives regarding early public participation in the planning and execution of the HEATH Project and Higher Level Stewardship schemes in West Penwith while options were still open, and that this lack of consultation resulted in the local community being faced with a fait accompli in the form of numerous new gates, cattle grids, barbed wire fencing and grazing cattle that had ruined the perception of open unobstructed wilderness in an area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, and that this had resulted in restricted access for the disabled, walkers and horse riders. It was also alleged that Natural England was guilty of maladministration of the Higher Level Stewardship agreement covering Carnyorth Common.
LAWFULNESS OF HEATH PROJECT WORKS CHALLENGED
Bearing this in mind we have alleged that this failure to abide by the relevant European Directives brought the lawfulness of Natural England’s actions into question and that all cattle and new stock proofing should therefore be removed from Carnyorth Common, Watch Croft, Carn Galva and two crofts of Lanyon Farm (Men-an-Tol and Lanyon Quoit Crofts).
“TO OUR SATISFACTION”
Natural England has responded to the Parliamentary Ombudsman with an assurance that they are taking steps to see whether they can resolve matters to our satisfaction, and that I have agreed to give them time to do that. The Ombudsman has informed me that if I am dissatisfied with NE’s attempts to resolve matters and/or are taking too long to do this I can make further complaint to the Ombudsman.
Over the past months only a handful of secondary concerns have been addressed, and in some cases rectified, by Natural England (unlawful cattle grids, excavations on Carn Galva, a few gate catches). Most of these relate to errors made during the HEATH Project and were brought to the attention of Natural England/National Trust by concerned residents communicating through Save Penwith Moors.
While these remedial works are to be welcomed, our major concerns – that have not changed since we began our campaign in early summer 2008 – have, until the recent appointment of a new NE contact, always been met with dogmatic responses from the Chief Executive down to officials in the Truro office.
Being mindful of current government financial cut-backs, it is our belief that there is now an urgency to get a resolution for our complaints, and we therefore consider it would be an inappropriate waste of time and money for Natural England to undertake any further minor remedial works.
WE WANT TO SEE INFRASTRUCTURE REMOVED ALTOGETHER – NOT ‘IMPROVED’.
This would then constitute a resolution of our complaint to the Parliamentary Ombudsman ‘to our satisfaction’.
OBJECTIVES AND SUGGESTIONS
To restate our fundamental objectives:
1. Cattle to be removed from Carnyorth Common.
2. Any new agri-environmental agreements covering Watch Croft, Carn Galva and the 2 crofts of Lanyon Farm (Men-an-Tol and Lanyon Quoit) to exclude introduction of grazing animals.
3. Once grazing animals are no longer an issue for these areas then the new HEATH project stock proofing infrastructure becomes redundant and should be removed (fencing, gates, cattle grids).
Suggestions (some of which can apply to areas outside those of our immediate concern)
1. To provide a possible solution to this issue of moorland maintenance we suggest that future Higher Level Stewardship agreements that cover West Penwith moorland bordering the Tinners Way from St Just to St Ives should exclude grazing animals and associated stock proofing but would pay farmers/landowners for manual maintenance, preservation of archaeological sites, footpaths etc, as we have previously suggested (this refers especially to Woon Gumpus, Chun Downs, Nine Maidens Common and Mulfra/Treen Commons) and that after a minimum of 10 years (the duration of most Higher Level Stewardship agreements) the situation should be reassessed with a comparison to other moorland sites that have been grazed during that period.
2. To upgrade and effectively maintain the Tinners Way to give a unified ‘identity’ to these moors that will be of immense benefit both to locals and the tourist industry.
3. Footpath and open access signage, and upgrading of current parking (a prerequisite of improved access, especially for the elderly and disabled), to be improved but kept discreet so as not to destroy the ‘informal’ feeling of the areas under consideration.
4. Create community links to ensure maintenance, recreational and cultural links are secured.
Dr Helen Phillips, Natural England Chief Executive, 1 East Parade, Sheffield, S1 2ET
Ciaran Gannon, Natural England Regional Director South West
9th Floor, Renslade House, Bonhay Road, Exeter, EX4 3AW
Stephen Warman (Natural England contact for SPM)
Level 4, Pydar House, Pydar Street, Truro, Cornwall, TR1 1XU
Andrew George MP
‘Trewella’, 18 Mennaye Road, Penzance, Cornwall, TR18 4NG
Loaded on C24net as a courtesy relay of media release – Chris Dunkerley (Kevrenor)