Summary & Outcomes
The aim was to connect the reserves at Arne and Hartland with adjacent privately owned heathland and woodland to establish a large grazing unit of 1,284ha, and a second unit 510ha of heath / forest mosaics at Rempstone.
At Rempstone, a main grazing unit of 280ha has been created to the west, with a smaller one the other side of Claywell of 62ha. This was completed in 2014 and is being grazed predominantly by White Park cattle. The cattle in the large unit seem to be moving well around the site though come back ‘home’ each night.
At Arne / Hartland, initial work went according to plan – local councillors were taken out on site and affected householders met individually. Preliminary and detailed designs were produced for cattle grids, and road safety assessments and noise reports carried out. Data were collected on traffic volumes and speeds. However, part way through the project, the privately owned site was put on the open market. It was not possible to proceed until the outcome of this was known.
At the end of 2014, the National Trust purchased the site, so the project is “live” again. Work is now under way to remove some of fencing. The remainder of the project will be financed by a local development through the planning system (s106 funding).
Highlights & Challenges
This project has seen a number of challenges. In addition to the private land being offered for sale (see above), there have been a number of issues relating to cattle movements and animal health, and cross-compliance concerns. These are being addressed through joint working between land agents for the National Trust, RSPB and Natural England.
The NIA funding for this project was limited, with the remainder expected to come from a section 106 agreement associated with planning applications from Perenco. This has taken much longer than envisaged, and has still not been completely resolved.
Once the Perenco section 106 agreement funding is released, progress on the large grazing unit will continue and should be completed within 12 months.