Nature reserve bylaws dissolved

SIR - With reference to the article in the Sidmouth Herald about Fire Beacon Common.

A quote on the Herald website states the Town Council as saying their ‘ first duty is to protect Fire Beacon as a nature reserve’. Cllr Ann Liverton is quoted as saying ‘it is a special area that needs to be conserved’. In her words, ‘These sorts of habitats are becoming very rare’.

In1993, steps were taken to do just that. Byelaws were passed to protect the Common. These byelaws cover a number of issues, but one, in particular. states that erecting fencing and grazing of livestock is prohibited. Have these byelaws been dissolved - if so who by? They were obviously drawn up by experts - have these experts now been disproved?

Certainly, the Council does not seem to be listening to the local experts who have worked and farmed in this area for generations. I fully appreciate that they need to keep the scrub under control, but putting up fences and introducing cattle and ponies does not seem to be the answer. Mr Williams has explained that the cattle are not interested in eating the bracken, described as invasive vegetation. In fact, bracken is poisonous. The cattle are only going to be interested in the grass and heather which we are trying to preserve.

You talk about the RSPB public consultation - I wonder how many other people would have been involved if they had made the Open Day more accessible and/or at a weekend.

Once again I urge the Town Council to listen to the concerns of Stewart Williams and to look at the other sites where these methods have been used.

Is this really protection? It will take a matter of months to destroy.

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You will never be able to recreate this natural habitat.

Susie Ford

Lower Coombe Cottage,

Coombe Waxway, Tipton St John