Sidmouth beauty spot ‘fence’ bid progresses

PUBLISHED: 07:00 18 January 2011

BEACON BID: RSPB experts listened to fence proposal objectors in October

BEACON BID: RSPB experts listened to fence proposal objectors in October

Archant

CONTROVERSIAL plans the erect a 2,200meter fence around Sidmouth’s unique Fire Beacon Nature Reserve are on the verge of becoming a reality.

CONTROVERSIAL plans to erect a 2,200 metre fence around Sidmouth’s unique Fire Beacon Nature Reserve are on the verge of becoming a reality.

Town councillors this week voted to proceed - despite objections from dog walkers and horse riders- and said: “Our first duty is to protect it as a nature reserve.”

They labelled some objectors’ comments in a public consultation as “narrow and self-centred”.

The RSBP, which manages the site on behalf of Sidmouth Town Council, says a permanent, gated, boundary fence is “vital” to keeping in cattle they hope will help manage invasive vegetation that threatens to overwhelm the site.

Galloway Heifers were introduced there for part of last year in a bid to halt encroaching birch and bracken.

RSBP warden, Toby Taylor, who has managed the Reserve for nearly 20 years, said of last year’s three month public consultation: “We were open and transparent in what our proposals are.”

Mr Taylor reported RSBP findings to Sidmouth Town Council on Monday. The council voted in favour of asking him to apply to the Planning Inspectorate for permission to install the perimeter fence which will cost £5,000 in Natural England cash.

Councillor Ian Mackenzie-Edwards said it was “inevitable” that “more energetic people”, like horse riders and dog walkers, would voice objections.

Cllr Ann Liverton urged colleagues to heed experts’ advice and said: “It is a special area that needs to be conserved. These sorts of habitats are becoming very rare.”

Sixty-three people responded to the RSPB consultation. Thirty-one respondents, 49per cent, supported plans while 24, 38per cent, objected to them.


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