Who are the real experts?

SIR - Re: Fire Beacon Fence Plan.

I must take issue as to who are the real experts here, the RSPB or the locals who have been using the Common for years prior to the RSPB’s involvement.

My money is on Mr Summers, a well-respected local of note and a true countryman, and Mr Williams, a local farmer, both of whom know more about the countryside and the local Common than the so-called RSPB experts.

Their knowledge comes from years of living with and working on the land. I am no stranger to the countryside and must say I agree with their and Mr Ford’s comments in last week’s letters and cover story.

I have used the Common for the best part of 40 to 50 years and it’s not altered very much in all that time, so can see no need for cattle and ponies now.

Fire Beacon Common is only a small part of the open land at the top of Core Hill. It comprises of The Heath Land, Beach Coppice and Coniferous Woodland which forms a far larger natural habitat than the common and to fence one part from the other is just plain stupidity.

It is very rare for us locals to speak up and I don’t think I have ever seen letters in the paper before from Mr Ford, Mr Williams or Mr Summers. I hope you local councillors are listening and do something to stop this ill-conceived scheme when planning permission is sought.

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I think the cattle issue is a red herring; the fencing is more about control. Once a fence is erected, it won’t be long before the RSPB signs go up telling we Sidmothians when, where and how we are allowed to walk on The Common. This has already started with signs displayed everywhere telling you what to do around the current electric fenced off area.

Fire Beacon Common neither belongs to the RSPB, Sidmouth Council, East Devon Council or anyone else. It belongs to all of us to use, legally, as we see fit and no one has the right to fence it off.

I’m sure a far better use could be found for the �5000, which will most likely end up as �10,000, in these times of Government cut backs.

Tony Parsons

Balfours, Sidmouth