Alpaca farm owner defends four feet badger fence which is blocking a Rangeworthy public footpath
A FENCE aimed at keeping badgers out of an alpaca farm in Rangeworthy has left walkers unable to access a public right of way.
The four feet high fence, dug in underground has been erected around the 25-acre Alpaca Power farm, on Shepherds Close Farm, in an attempt to safeguard the closed Chalford herd free from bovine TB.
Owners the Macdonald family have also electrocuted the top of the fence around the farm which prides itself on its biosecurity and the fact it has never been placed under restriction to any disease.
But the security measure has not gone down well with locals, as the fence has shut off a public footpath to ramblers and leisure walkers who use this peaceful part of the open countryside.
There have also been complaints that no application was made to South Gloucestershire Council to erect the fence and people were only made aware of it when work the barriers started going up a week ago.
Anthony Clements, who lives in nearby Lower Common, said: “I don’t have a problem with the farm and the people who run it. They are very nice and run a top class establishment.
“But they have shut off a public right a way and I am perturbed that they can’t just go and do that.”
A former Rangeworthy parish councillor, Mr Clements said he believed the footpath would remain closed for some time.
“South Gloucestershire Council will probably sit on its hands,” he said. “But it should issue a stop notice straight away.”
Parish councillor Wendy Moody told the Gazette that although there is an alternative walking route, the matter had had been referred to the local authority.
“According to the letter of the law the footpath shouldn’t be blocked,” she said. “It is like blocking off the M5 because you don’t like the noise of the traffic.
“They have knowingly fenced off a public right of way. It is the law and it should be open.”
The Ramblers said it had not yet been aware of the problem and had not seen any similar complaints relating to Bovine TB. The association, which campaigns for the freedom to walk footpaths and wild countryside, said it believes legal rights to walk in the countryside are far preferable to access by permission.
However, Helen Macdonald said she had put up notices before the fence went up and she was in discussions with South Gloucestershire Council.
"I have spoken to the council and it is being dealt with," she said. "I am not doing anything I shouldn't be, I am a law abiding citizen and the fence is not yet finished.
"We import and export so we have to do what we have to do to protect the animals. If people could just bear with us we are getting it sorted."
A spokesman for South Gloucestershire Council said: “The council has a statutory duty to ensure that public rights of way are kept clear of obstructions. If a public right of way is found to have been obstructed then we can ask the landowner to remove the obstruction or, if the obstruction is longstanding and not deliberate, to apply for a diversion order.
“In this particular case there was found to be an obstruction, so we will be visiting the landowners to discuss the situation with them.”
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