There's another demo Outside Shire Hall 9.30am Wed 13th February.
Although the FC have a long lease, could new owners clamp down on the present relaxed way in which the DH trails are used and built?
The Newly formed Quantocks cycling hub, has future plans of making the DH trails more 'official' as well as a possible development of all ability trails.
This opens up the chance for races being held as well as giving families the chance to be introduced to a more active lifestyle. Something which the 1SW project was designed to do, a project that the very same David Huxtable(cllr pushing the proposals through) has links to via it's partners.
I received this today, makes little sense to me, but i'm not remotely knowledgeable of this kind of blurb.
SUMMARY OF NOTIFICATION OF A PROPOSED KEY DECISION TO BE TAKEN BY THE CABINET
The document was published on the web on Friday afternoon 10th February 2012 (After Lib Dem motion registered at noon)
Full document on: http://www1.somerset.gov.uk/council/portfolio%2015/2012/Notification%20of%20proposed%20disposal%20of%20SCC%20land%20at%20the%20Quantocks.pdf
Date of Publication of proposed Key Decision: 3 February 2012
Date proposed Key Decision to be made: 13 February 2012
Date Decision comes into force: 17 February 2012
Recommendation: That the Cabinet Member for Resources:
Approves the proposed disposal of the legal interests in
the land known as Thorncombe Hill, Customs Common
& Great Wood on the Quantocks.
“The sale of this land will assist the Council to achieve its priority
or rationalising its property portfolio and realising capital receipts
to support the overall capital programme.”
“The land is not required by the Council to fulfil any statutory
function, and the necessary protection of the land can be
maintained by the existing statutory legislation and where
necessary strengthened by the use of covenants to ensure
continuing protection of the land, public access, its management
“Background information which has been considered in respect of
each of the sites has included an assessment of its landscape,
biodiversity and heritage value. It is proposed that appropriate
conditions should be attached to the sale to ensure that the
landscape, biodiversity and heritage value is protected in the
future, although this could affect the value which a site would
realise on disposal.”
“Failure to dispose of these three sites will mean that the Council
will not generate a capital receipt to meet the Council priorities.
The level of public interest and concern suggests that the
proposed disposal may be subject to subsequent challenge
which if successful could affect the completion of any disposal.”
“The Council has complied with this statutory requirement with adverts in the Bridgwater Mercury on 29th November and 6th December 2011 and responses were required by 23rd December 2011.”
3.1. The advertising of the Councils instruction to dispose of the land resulted in a
number of representations being received. This included some 130 letters, 300
e-mail objections and a petition delivered on 22nd December 2011 with 331
names. Additionally an e-petition on the County Council’s website has been set
up which at the close of 23rd December 2011 had 2612 names but currently at
4804 names. Details of the representations will be considered at the decision
3.2. The responses can be summarised as follows:
- The possible transfer to private ownership
- That the open space should not be sold
- Concern about the loss of access
- Concern about the management of the land
- Protection of the Sites of Special Scientific Interest
- No public consultation on the proposal
- Concern about future development of the land
- Possible loss of amenity for leisure groups
- Effect on tourism
This link given was unavailable on Saturday 11th of February:
Appendix A: Impact Assessment by Charlie Field
The people who could be affected are those who use the sites for recreation, sporting activities and relaxation. There is a link here to the condition of the natural environment in that people enjoy the sites (particularly the Quantock Hills) for their wildlife, their landscape and their peaceful nature. The 2003 Quantock Hills Visitor Survey details that the Quantock Hills received over 385,000 recreational visits a year, and over 50% of Quantock visitors visit ten or more times per year.
People of all ages and abilities use the Hills. While the present ownership encourages sustainable levels of use there is a risk that a private owner will not continue to actively support public use of the sites and may not make those with disabilities feel as welcome as at present. However all the land is classified as Open Access Land and include a right of access on foot. There is a good network of footpaths and bridleways over the land which will ensure access is maintained.
The Quantock AONB service has policies on sustainability which are relevant to the use of the sites owned by SCC. AONB staff has been instrumental in entering both SCC land and adjacent private land into DEFRA stewardship schemes which help ensure that much of the SSSI hill top is managed in a sustainable way. There is a risk that change of ownership could result in less proactive management of the hills.
The AONB service could be less involved in the management of the hills and in a weaker position to ensure sustainable management. A form of hunting takes place on a regular basis on the hills. This often involves significant use of 4x4s and quad bikes across the land owned by SCC. The AONB Service ensures that this is managed to reduce this use and impacts such as the erosion of tracks which makes their use by walkers, cyclists and riders more difficult. Loss of ownership makes managing these activities more difficult and may reduce the ability of certain groups to use the hills as they do at present.
Firearms are sometimes carried by those involved in the hunting activity. While the Council presently has some control of this through ownership this will be lost should the sporting rights be sold to a private owner.
“In view of the risks identified in this analysis it is recommended that all of the three sites (Thorncombe Hill, Over Stowey Customs Common and Greatwood) should be sold subject to protective covenants including engagement with positive environmental management and protection from increased vehicle damage. This protection would be easiest to meet if ownership transfers to an organisation whose aims and purpose in terms of public benefit and sustainability are strong.”
There could be a reduction in quality to the rights of way network. There is a risk that a change of ownership could result in a deterioration of the highway network
There is a risk that change of ownership could result in less proactive management of the land for landscape and wildlife.
Significant use of 4x4s and quad bikes across the land owned by SCC. Loss of ownership makes managing these activities more difficult.