Further to your article last week, Rother District Council’s proposed DaSA comes across as whole sale attack on the local equestrian industry and associated trades.
Equestrianism is the second largest rural economy after agriculture and with lack of profitability within agriculture, provides a valuable source of additional income to farmers through hay and straw sales and contracting services in addition to liveries.
Their recommendation that planning requests for new stabling be sited only near to bridlepath access effectively wipes out the possibility for stabling in many parishes which are not served by as much as one bridlepath.
Where the authors of this report obtained their information about their good bridlepath network is, as a committee member of the former Hastings and Rother Bridleways Assocation for eight years, completely beyond me.
The few bridlepaths we have in the district are accessible and fairly well maintained thanks to the efforts of the excellent Rights of Way team at ESCC and rarely fall under the radar of RDC at all.
Their implication that stabling and equestrian land use is disfiguring the ANOB of the High Weald is frankly quite incorrect and I believe quite a number of people enjoy seeing horses out in the fields.
Any additional fencing required is generally temporary in nature such as post and rail, or electric.
Well maintained land, as most horse owners are inclined to do, does not leave any lasting scar on the natural environment and is similar to land management for livestock grazing.
If Rother District Council would like to address the issues that are actually changing the face of the ANOB perhaps they would like to focus their attentions on people who are buying up pockets of land as an investment, or to prevent development next to their property and then leave this entirely unmanaged.
The problem of invasive airborne weeds such as ragwort, docks and thistles has become a significant and still increasing problem.
This causes problems and additional costs for all livestock owners and farmers in eradicating them before it poisons their animals or contaminates their crops.
In addition to this the hedgerows which are an intrinsic part of the High Weald landscape are being left totally unmanaged.
From an aesthetic point of view this is obstructing many previously beautiful view points and from a safety point of view obstructing visibility on many of our rural roads.
More importantly however, these spindly trees which develop, do not throw out new shoots at the bottom and eventually there is no other alternative but to grub these old hedgerows out and start a fresh as they become weakened and collapse.
There are many fields around the district that have been allowed to deteriorate in such a manner and would take considerable work to bring back into any productive use.
Actually, one example of which is The Mountain Field, Fairlight, owned by Rother District Council and the surrounding fields which sadly have been allowed to deteriorate significantly, with the hedgerows now falling into the fields.
A once popular view point has now turned into an unsightly mess.
Rother District Council cite animal welfare concerns regarding densely populated horse fields and suggest a ration of one horse per hectare.
The actual ratio is one horse per acre which is significantly different.
RDC themselves admit that there is a lack of people participating in sports activities within the district, however this proposal goes against encouraging further participation in an activity which has well known benefits for physical and mental health.
Rather than attacking a whole leisure activity, industry and associated trades from farriers to agricultural contractors, perhaps Rother District Council would like to support it and actually help create that good bridleway network which they apparently think lies on their doorstep?
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