Friday, 4 June 2010



Walking and working for a people’s countryside



Press release, May 29th 2010. Contact Dave: T. 01273 620 815, or Kim:

On Saturday 12th June Kate Ashbrook, the redoubtable Secretary of the Open Spaces Society, with many walkers and other lovers of the South Downs, led by Action For Access, will be demonstrating against the exclusion of the public from a piece of ‘freedom to roam’ downland at Breaky Bottom slope, TQ 404 053, on the Rodmell Downs between Brighton and Lewes, East Sussex.

We meet at Southease Station (on the rail line from Lewes to Newhaven and Seaford) at 10.35am.

The slope is a lovely and ancient down pasture site with grand views and lots of the old wildlife you get on what’s left of our traditional flowery chalk grasslands.

The landowner, who owns and lives at a vineyard in the valley bottom, has ‘pulled out all the stops’ to prevent the public enjoying their new freedom on his land.

He objected to the slope’s new rights of public access:

- because he didn’t want the public enjoying this downland near to his home and business;
- because he wanted to protect his shooting rights over the ground;
- and because there was a tiny disused chalk quarry at one end of the site.
Though his appeal was rejected on the first two grounds, he won a restriction order excluding the public from all this site because the tiny quarry was deemed a hazard.

At present, Natural England - at its most supine - is colluding in the landowner’s hostility to access by renewing, in a modified form, this restriction order on the site, first granted at appeal.

“More fencing than Guantanamo”

This landowner has failed to fence the quarry even though he has just spent £15,000 on re-fencing the entire access land site and fragmenting it into four barbed wire paddocks. Yet all that is needed is a mere 70 metres of fencing for this quarry to be made safe enough to satisfy Natural England’s requirements for the re-opening of the site.

His farm earns him the title of “the most-fenced farm on the South Downs”, with every vine row, tiny paddock and field, fenced or hedged.

And the local authority, Lewes District Council, has so far failed to take the action they are empowered to take under the Mines and Quarries Acts to fence the small chalk pit and thus enable the site to be re-opened.

Our demonstration seeks to put pressure on the local Council, Natural England, and the landowner to give us back our right to walk this ancient downland site. It serves notice that no such acts of selfishness will go unchallenged.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

1 comment:

quedula said...

Excellent stuff. Go for it!