Consultation is still ongoing but taking into consideration the encouraging positive feedback obtained so far, the Wardens are looking into presenting an application to DEFRA for permission to re-introduce grazing on to Ludshott Common.
During this year, National Trust wardens and colleagues from the Ludshott Commons Committee will be undertaking further consultations on the future long-term, sustainable management of Ludshott Common.
The issues confronting the Trust are outlined in the editions of Commons Link (7 - 9) which should be read in conjunction with the following article.
A larger version of this map can be found in Commons Link Issue 10
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Having spoken to most of our neighbours, and a large number of people who use the common regularly, it is apparent that there is a demand for more detail about one of our proposed options for management – to re-instate grazing. To date, discussion about the future management of the common has met with a variety of reactions with a significant majority expressing enthusiasm, support or interest in the idea of using animals to undertake a traditional and more natural form of management.
Because Ludshott is a registered common and designated for its wildlife, the National Trust is required to gain an understanding of stakeholder’s views about significant changes in management or works affecting the land. An application to the Planning Inspectorate to carry out works on common land needs to show that there is general support and a clear need.
The map shows a proposed grazing area for Ludshott Common. Ancient laws prohibit fencing on or across common land without special permission and it will be expected by the agencies who grant consent that every effort is made to put fencing along boundaries. At Ludshott, the boundaries are usually marked by ancient ditch and bank earthworks.
Currently, about one third of the boundary is fenced, some of which is stock-proof. Another third could be fenced against the boundary, and a further quarter has fencing consent under an 1840 Enclosure Award or can be located just beyond the legal boundary. Around one tenth of the fencing would be located directly on the Common.
In this proposal the main Ludshott car parks would be excluded from the grazing area (except for the southern half of the Superior Camp / concrete road car park which would be accessed across a cattle grid). Residents at Summerden and other nearby neighbouring properties would also need cattle grids for vehicle access.
Public access is of paramount importance, so gates would be installed on all Rights of Way, at car parks, next to cattle grids and where there is regular informal access onto the common. Access for horse riders along bridleways onto the common would also have specially designed gates with easy-to-open latches. Field gates would also be needed for NT staff, management and emergency vehicle access. Unauthorised vehicle access onto the common would not be permitted.
Typical gate arrangement for walkers and riders at Bramshott Chase
This proposal would allow a large area of approximately 550 acres to be grazed. The small number of grazing animals required would mean they would be widely dispersed across the Common. Agricultural and wildlife regulations would require there to be just enough animals to maintain the heathland habitat in good condition, but not so many as to damage the habitat structure to the detriment of the wildlife.