SAVE PENWITH MOORS - WHO WE ARE AND WHAT WE STAND FOR
At the beginning of July 2008 a small group of concerned local residents came together under the name of Save Penwith Moors [SPM] to encourage and co-ordinate opposition to plans by Natural England to install barbed wire fencing, gates and cattle grids on previously unobstructed open access local moorland under the HEATH Project, prior to introducing grazing animals as part of a Higher Level Stewardship [HLS] ‘conservation grazing’ scheme, both of these schemes involving large sums of money.
But Save Penwith Moors does not campaign against all new fencing and grazing. We limited ourselves to a few specific areas that were all well known to us for many decades and that constitute the physical and spiritual heartland of the Land's End Peninsula with its many prehistoric sites - areas that are amongst the most popular recreational 'wilderness' areas of moorland for both locals and tourists on whom so much of the local economy depends.
The spring, summer and autumn of 2008 saw protests grow dramatically with St Just Town Council voting against the fencing of Carnyorth Common and, after major stock proofing works began in early November, a Heathlands Forum was initiated by the former Penwith District Council (after representations from SPM) to open discussions between interested parties.
During 2009 it became obvious that several HEATH Project stock proofing works might be unlawful or, at least, unacceptable and after complaints by SPM these had to be remedied.
We complained to NE and various government ministers that local communities in West Penwith had never been consulted over HEATH Project intentions, even though Natural England had been the Lead Partner in what was a multi-euro publicly funded project with partners in the UK, France and Holland, and that this was, allegedly, a breach of Articles of the Aarhus Convention and so brought the legality of stock proofing into question.
Following a failure to resolve this issue we submitted a complaint in July 2010 to the Parliamentary Ombudsman [PO] through our local MP: this alleged maladministration by Natural England. NE attempted to resolve these issues but a response received at the end of January 2011 proved to be totally unsatisfactory and the issue has now been returned to the Ombudsman for assessment before any further action is taken.
Our campaign only requires resolution of ‘show stoppers’ – none of which have so far been resolved: basically this involves removal of all new stock proofing and grazing animals from some 400 hectares of moorland that amount to a mere 1.6% of the Natural England HLS target area for Penwith – we do not feel this is an unreasonable request.
For more on our campaign please go to www.savepenwithmoors.com