Law of Property Act 1925 – Section 194
Wetley Moor Staffordshire
Public Local Inquiry
Proofs of Evidence by Mark Preece, Countryside Officer
Parks and Countryside Service – Staffordshire Moorlands District Council
On behalf of Wetley Moor Joint Committee
Summary page 1
1 Introduction to self page 4
2 Conservation management objectives at Wetley Moor page 5
3 Details of conservation management at Wetley Moor page 8
4 Costs of heathland management work at Wetley Moor page 10
5 Survey and monitoring page 11
6 Examples of best practice in heathland management from Page 20
7 Details of the proposed fencing and access features page 21
8 How the grazing trial will be monitored page 25
9 List of Appendices page 27
Conservation management objectives for Wetley Moor Management Plan 2001 –
2006 require enhancing and restoring through Management the lowland heathland at
Between 1995 and 2002 large scale Birch and Willow scrub clearance work has
been carried out. Areas of ground vegetation have been cut with the cuttings being
removed from site. Fires caused accidentally or by vandals have occurred. The
commoner‟s cattle have also carried out some grazing.
The cost of mechanical management methods are significant. Scrub clearance has
cost £1,000 per hectare and ground vegetation cutting has cost up to £1,500 per
hectare. Due to the specialist machinery required it has not been possible to obtain
a contractor to carry out ground vegetation cutting in some years.
Monitoring of the vegetation has been carried out through the following principal
Survey of national vegetation communities and the condition and cover of
heather, Jerram, 1994
Heather condition survey, Penny Anderson ecological consultants, 2001
English Nature lowland heathland common standards condition
The surveys have indicated that:
There is a decline in the area of heather cover
The Purple Moor Grass is out-competing the heather over the site as a
whole and where cutting or burning has occurred.
A dominance of over mature and degenerate heather
A lack of bare ground
The majority of the vegetation is tall and there is a poor vegetation
The existing management regime is not producing a heathland in „favourable
condition‟ as defined by English Nature. Additional grazing is required to remove
selectively the excess of Purple Moor Grass to provide light and space for heather
seedlings to establish. Grazing is needed to prevent re-invasion of Birch and Willow
seedlings in areas already cleared of scrub.
Best practice from other heathland sites is that grazing is used as a best practice
management tool. Many sites that have used mechanical methods of management,
have successfully introduced grazing. Many of these sites have open public access.
Other heathland sites are successfully using stock that is free ranging within a
fenced enclosure. These include sites within urban areas such as Sutton Park in
Fencing is required to prevent livestock straying on to adjacent roads. Ten cattle will
initially graze the trial area in line with recommendations from English Nature for
heathland restoration. As the heathland quality improves it is likely that this stocking
density can be reduced. 480 m of post and wire fencing is proposed.
Seven self-closing bridle gates and field gates will provide access.
Grazing will typically be for six months from May to October.
The grazier will be subject to the terms of a grazing licence.
Existing ponds will be excavated to provide a water supply and a mobile
water bowser will supplement this.
These practical arrangements are the same as those at Grange Heath Royal Society
for the Protection of Birds reserve where I took the lead in establishing a successful
heathland grazing project in 1995.
A trail grazing area is required to prove that a grazier can be sustained at Wetley
Moor and to assess the day-to-day practicalities of keeping stock within a fenced
area of the common.
Monitoring of the benefits of additional grazing will consist of:
Carrying out an annual English Nature Common standards lowland
heathland condition assessment inside and outside the trial area to enable
a comparison of the overall condition of the heathland.
Repeating the Heather Condition Survey by Penny Anderson Ecological
Consultants 2001 at the end of the trial.
Fixed point photographs to provide a visual comparison of the vegetation,
inside and outside the trial area.
1 Introduction to self
1.1 My name if Mark John Preece. I commenced employment as a Countryside
Officer for Staffordshire Moorlands District Council on 18 th October 1999. I
have been employed for just under three and a half years. I have a degree in
Biology from the University of Wolverhampton.
1.2 I was employed by the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) from
1987 to 1999. Between 1992 and 1999 I was employed as an Area Warden
on the RSPB Dorset Heathland Project Team. During this time I was involved
in the restoration and management of at least 20 heathland sites across
Dorset. My duties included supervision of staff, contractors and volunteers
carrying out heathland restoration, introduction and implementation of
conservation grazing schemes and ecological monitoring on heathland sites. I
was also responsible for the establishment and restoration of a new RSPB
heathland reserve where grazing was introduced for conservation reasons.
1.3 Between 1987 and 1992 I was employed as an Assistant Warden on a range
of RSPB reserves throughout the UK.
1.4 I have been responsible for overseeing day to day management at Wetley
Moor since commencing employment with Staffordshire Moorlands District
Council. I have taken a lead in revising the Management Plan for Wetley
Moor and producing and implementing a costed annual Countryside
Management work programme for Wetley Moor.
1.5 Other duties as a Countryside Officer include:
the management of a promoted rights of way network
management of other Countryside sites owned by Staffordshire
Moorlands District Council
Advice to community groups, farmers and landowners on aspects of
Countryside, recreation management, public access and conservation
The administration of applications to divert public rights of way and
advice on the environmental implications of planning applications
Promotion of environmental awareness and environmental education
2 Conservation management objectives at Wetley Moor
2.1 A heathland in good ecological condition has a number of key features:
Tree scrub cover restricted to 15 percent of the site or less
A varied age and height structure of heather and other vegetation
A predominance of heather and other dwarf shrubs (Bilberry and
Gorse) with grass species such as Purple Moor Grass present but not
1 – 10 percent cover of undisturbed bare ground
2.2 To achieve this desired state a number of key management problems have to
be addressed as outlined in the table below:
Management problem Explanation
Mature tree scrub Will shade out heather and cause a
change to woodland.
Re-growth from cut stumps Will grow up to form mature tree scrub
Seedling trees Will grow up to form mature tree scrub
Old heather/vegetation of uniform Will not permit the diversity of fauna that
age and structure a varied age and structure will
Selective removal of coarse Grasses will out compete heather. This
grasses in particular Purple Moor will lead to a loss of the heather and the
Grass formation of grassland
Lack of bare ground Bare ground is a vital habitat for key
invertebrates and for annual plants.
2.3 The Wetley Moor Management Plan approved by Wetley Moor Joint
Committee in 1995, outlined a programme of heather cutting and Birch and
Willow scrub clearance, to improve the quality of the lowland heathland at
2.4 The Wetley Moor management Plan 2001-2006 advocated the following key
policies to address the management problems at Wetley Moor.
To enhance, through management the qualities of existing lowland
heathland communities, by a combination of small scale heather cutting
with the removal of cuttings from site, on a 15-20 year cycle, together
with the removal of seedling Birch and Willow scrub. The creation of a
high quality heathland can only be achieved by grazing.
To restore areas of heath that have become degraded through scrub
invasion by removing approximately 5·6 hectares of dense Birch and
Willow scrub and scattered scrub over the whole site (while retaining
scattered clumps and individual trees for landscape value and as song
posts for birds and nectar sources for invertebrates).
2.5 The management techniques that are currently used to address the
management problems and achieve management policies are summarised in
the table below with the limitations of each technique. All these management
techniques have a cost implication.
Management Management Technique Limitation
Mature tree scrub Felling trees Labour intensive
Re-growth from cut Treat stumps or spray re- Undesirable introduction of
stumps growth with chemicals chemicals into the
Rarely totally effective.
Management problem Management Technique Limitation
Seedling trees Hand pulling Cannot cope with
quantities of seedlings
Cutting on a 15 – 20 year Some areas are too rough
rotation. / wet to allow machinery to
Old heather / vegetation of operate.
uniform age and structure
Intrusive and cannot
achieve small – scale
variations in structure and
Burning May encourage copycat
Not used as a deliberate
management method at Danger of igniting coal
Wetley Moor but many seams.
fires due to vandalism.
Intrusive and cannot
variations in structure and
Wet ground may make
Selective removal of Cutting Machine cutting is non-
coarse grasses in selective.
particular Purple Moor
Grass Some areas are too rough
to allow machinery to
Off site disposal required.
Need to repeat annually.
Lack of bare ground Hand or mechanical Intrusive and cannot
digging achieve a small-scale
patchwork of bare ground.
3 Details of Conservation Management at Wetley Moor
3.1 The main heathland conservation management from 1995 to the present has
consisted of heather cutting with the removal of heather cuttings and the
removal of invasive Birch, Willow and Oak scrub. The table below provides a
summary of the number of hectares each year receiving different types of
3.2 Summary of main heathland management 1995 – 2001
Year 95/96 96/97 97/98 98/99 99/00 00/01 01/02 02/03
1·5 2 1·75 1·5 2
Birch / Willow
4 2 5 5 13 6·1 3·5
fire 3 0·5 0·7 5
3.3 Notes relating to the above table
Though not a deliberate management activity the area of land affected
by recorded uncontrolled fires is included for information. It has been
suggested there were very extensive fires effecting the whole site
during the mid nineteen seventies.
Scrub clearance has been carried out by a mixture of contractors and
volunteers. The stumps of Birch, Willow and Oak scrub were treated
with a chemical to prevent re-growth.
Heather cutting has been carried out by contractors using a specialist
heather cutter. No cutting was carried out in 2001 – 2002 because no
contractors could be found to carry out the work. Obtaining a
contractor annually to carry out heather cutting is a major management
problem. In 2002 no local contractors could be found to carry out the
work and a contractor had to be employed that was based in Dorset.
In addition small areas of bare ground have been hand dug in 2001 and
2002 by volunteers.
Small areas of 0·1 - 0·2 hectares of invasive Japanese Knotweed have
been controlled, by spraying with an appropriate chemical between
2000 and 2002.
Small areas of gorse coppiced were in 2001 and 2002.
3.4 Between 1996 and January 2002 approximately 38·6 hectares of invasive
scrub of various densities has been removed from Wetley Moor. The map in
Appendix A shows the location of removed scrub. Scrub has been removed
from approximately 50 percent of the heathland Site of Special Scientific
Interest (SSSI). Midway through the Wetley Moor Management Plan 2001 –
2006 the planned programme of scrub clearance is on target to being
3.5 Approximately 17·95 hectares of 26 percent of the heathland SSSI has been
cut or burnt since 1994. The distribution of these cut or burnt areas is shown
on the map in Appendix B. Cutting has not been possible in some years due
to difficulties in obtaining the specialist contractors needed.
3.6 The only grazing management the site has received, between 1995 and the
present is grazing by the commoner‟s cows. The commoner has the right to
graze up to 15 cows and seven followers on the common.
4 Costs of Heathland Management
4.1 The costs of scrub clearance can vary according to the density of scrub and
the nature of the ground conditions. Clearance of 2·5 ha of 50 – 70 % scrub
cover in October 2002, with chemical treatment of stumps by contractors cost
£2,500. This gives a cost estimate of £1,000 per hectare for the removal of 50
– 75% cover scrub. It is anticipated that the cost of scrub clearance will rise in
the future. Contractors have indicated that they have lost money on recent
scrub clearance contracts, because they have not adequately considered the
problems of the terrain on the Moor. Estimated future costs are likely to be in
the region of £2,000 per ha as indicated in the Wetley Moor Management Plan
2001 – 2006.
4.2 A specialist contractor can only carry out heather cutting with the removal of
cuttings. Due to the very rough and wet nature of the ground, a specialist
heather cutting and collecting machine is required. Costs of cutting
operations were nearly £3,000 to clear and remove two hectares of heather /
ground vegetation in October 2002 at a cost of £1,500 per hectare.
4.3 Small areas of invasive Japanese Knotweed have been controlled by
chemical spraying at an annual cost of £500 between 2000 and 2002. Up to
£500 is allocated to carrying out small amounts of gorse clearance on an
4.4 Between 1991 and 2002 Wetley Moor Joint Committee has received an
annual Countryside Stewardship grant of approximately £4,000, to offset the
costs of heathland management.
5 Survey and Monitoring
5.1 Vegetation and Heather Condition Survey, Jerram 1994
5.1.1. A vegetation survey of Wetley Moor was carried out in May 1994. The
survey identified and mapped the national vegetation classification
communities, as well as the cover and condition of the heather present.
5.1.2 The survey found that the dominant National Vegetation Community
was the H9a Calluna vulgaris – Deschampsia flexuosa heath; Molinea
caerulea sub community with Calluna co-dominant with Molinea. It
was noted that in some areas Molinea was more dominant than
Calluna. The local abundance of Polytrichum commune was also
noted. On well drained slopes H9e Calluna vulgaris – Deschampsia
flexuosa heath Hpynum cupressiforme sub community occurred. This
community is characterised by less Molinea, more Bilberry and Wavey
Hair Grass. The distribution of vegetation communities is shown in the
summary of the report given in Appendix C.
5.1.3 The percentage ground cover of heather plants was estimated and
mapped at 1:2,500. It was assigned to the six percentage cover
51 – 75%
26 – 50%
10 – 25%
5.1.4 The height of heather plant was recorded in the following three
> 30 cm
15 – 30 cm
< 15 cm
5.1.5 For the purposes of the survey heather was defined as the following
Heather or Ling (Calluna vulgaris)
Bell heather (Erica cinerea)
Cross Leaved Heath (Erica tetralix)
Bilberry (Vaccinium myrtillus)
Crowberry (V vitis-idaea)
Cowberry (Empertrum nigrum)
5.1.6 The survey found that the heather was mature to over mature
throughout. The survey recommended a programme of tree and scrub
removal followed by the reintroduction of grazing to control Birch
regeneration. It was recognised that grazing may help to increase the
species diversity of the heathland communities. A programme of
heather cutting was recommended to create firebreaks and a variety of
heather age structures.
5.2 Heather condition survey Penny Anderson Ecological Consultants, 2001.
5.2.1 A heather condition assessment of Wetley Moor was repeated in 2001,
following the methods used in 1994 by Jerram. A copy of the heather
conditions survey carried out by Penny Anderson Associates,
Ecological Consultants is presented in Appendix „D‟.
5.2.2 Pages 3 – 6 of Appendix „D‟ detail the results. In summary:
a) only a third of the site has heather cover exceeding 50% ground
cover. On a heathland site in favourable condition it would be
expected that the heather component would be at 50% or more
across the whole site.
b) 81·5% of the heather is over 30 cm tall. A range of heather of
different heights would suggest a heathland in favourable
c) 78% of the heather is mature of old heather. A mosaic of
different ages would indicate a heathland in a more favourable
5.2.3 Pages 9 and 10 give concluding remarks. Of critical concern is the
indication that the Purple Moor Grass (Molinea caerulea) is out-
competing the heather leading to a decline in the heather cover. New
seedlings find it difficult ot establish if the grasses are able to grow
5.3 Comparison of the Heather Condition Survey in 1994 and 2001.
5.3.1 Pages 6 and 7 of Appendix „D‟ provide a comparison of the Survey
carried out by Penny Anderson in 2001 with the survey carried out in
1994 by Jerram. There appears to have been a significant decline in
heather cover at Wetley Moor since 1994. The graph on page 7 shows
30% decline in the area of heather cover class 51 – 75% heather
25% increase in the area of heather cover 10 – 25% heather
5.3.2 The map in Appendix „E‟ provides a visual comparison of the
distribution of heather cover classes in 1994 and 2001. Large areas
that were formerly in higher heather cover classes, have been replaced
by a lower heather cover class. The maps provide strong visual
evidence that heather is declining at the expense of Purple Moor
5.4 Results of heather cutting and fire damage.
5.4.1 Appendix „F‟ shows the location of areas where heather and other
vegetation has been cut and removed and areas that have received fire
damage. On drier slopes where there is less Purple Moor Grass
present heather regeneration has been good after cutting. Point 1 on
the map shown by Photograph 1 recorded in January 2003 shows good
heather regeneration from an area cut in 1998. This cut was carried
out in the H9e Calluna vulgaris - Deschampsia flexuosa heath Hyynum
cupressiforme sub community occurred. This community is
characterised by less Molinea, more Bilberry and Wavey Hair Grass.
5.4.2 Photograph 2 taken at point 2 on the map in January 2003 shows an
area cut in October 2000. This is in the dominant National Vegetation
Community at the Wetley Moor – the H9a Calluna vulgaris –
Deschampsia flexuosa heath; Molinea caerulea sub community with
Calluna co-dominant with Molinea. The photograph shows a
dominance of Purple Moor Grass.
5.4.3 Photographs 4 and 5 of Appendix „F‟ show the typical vegetation
structure across the H9a community. A dominance of Purple Moor
Grass, sparse old Heather and a lack of bare ground are visible. The
uniform tall structure of the vegetation can be seen. These areas
received extensive fire damage in the mid nineteen seventies.
5.5 English Nature common standards lowland heathland condition assessment.
5.5.1 Appendix „G‟ presents a summary of a Heathland Condition
Assessment based on a method devised by English Nature that was
carried out in October 2001 by Staffordshire Moorlands District Council
5.5.2 The survey involves assessing “attributes” (indicators of the quality of
the lowland heath) against defined targets. A target is defined as the
value or range of values that define the desired condition of the
attribute. Failure to meet any of the attribute targets will define the
SSSI as being in an unfavourable condition. If an unfavourable
condition is not being addressed by management, and the site is likely
to deteriorate as a result, then a “declining” status will be designated.
5.5.3 For example for the attribute degenerate heather the target is not to
exceed ten percent cover on average within each 2 x 2m sampling unit.
For the attribute young heather the target is to exceed 15% cover in
each 2 x 2m sample.
5.5.4 A structured walk was carried out in each management compartment.
An indication of the route of these structured walks is shown on the
map in Appendix „G‟. Ten 2m x 2m quadrats were sampled at 50 pace
intervals along each route. Details of the attributes and targets
sampled in each quadrat are shown on the recording sheet on page 3
in Appendix „G‟. It is not intended to reproduce all the recording sheets
but an example is shown on page 5 and 6 in Appendix „G‟.
5.5.5 The results for each quadrat are combined to produce an overall result
for the attribute within that compartment. A summary of the overall
results for all compartments at Wetley Moor is presented on pages 3,4
and 7 of Appendix „G‟.
5.5.6 All management compartments surveyed showed estimates below the
expected target values. In particular:
Excessive quantities of old heather
Lack of a mosaic of young, building, mature and old heather
Dominance of Purple Moor Grass and mats of acrocarpous
A lack of bare ground
5.5.7 All these characteristics combine to define Wetley Moor SSSI as in an
5.6 Vegetation monitoring transects
5.6.1 Three vegetation monitoring transects were established in 2000. The
location of these is shown on the map in Appendix „H‟. A total of 38 2 x
2m sampling quadrats were recorded along 3 transect lines across
Wetley Moor. The conclusions from the transects are:
The average height of the shrub layer is in excess of 30 cm.
The heather is largely tall and over mature with holes developing
There is a high percentage cover of Purple Moor Grass (Molinea
Little bare ground was recorded along any of the transect lines.
5.6.2 This data supports the English Nature Condition Assessment detailed
in Appendix „G‟ and supports the definition of a heathland in
5.7 Other Survey and Monitoring
5.7.1 A range of other surveys/monitoring has been carried out at Wetley
Moor as shown below.
Staffordshire Wildlife Trust Survey 1990
Baseline Invertebrate survey, Ecosurveys Ecological
Baseline survey of Amphibians, Reptiles and Mammals,
Survey of Hymenoptera (Bees, Wasps and Ants) - J Webb 2000
Survey of Invertebrates of water bodies, - Linda Holloway 2000
Annual monitoring of Birds of Conservation Concern 2000, 2001
Survey of Bryophtes (Mosses and Liverworts) 2002
5.7.2 The Baseline Invertebrate Survey, Ecotech 1994 showed Wetley Moor
had a typical assemblage of heathland/moorland invertebrates. One
nationally notable ground beetle Pterostichus angustatus was located.
This species requires early successional stages of heather and would
benefit from an increase in grazing intensity. The survey of Bees
wasps (Hymenoptera) 2000 revealed a community typical moorland
assemblage of species, with one species Andrena tarsata not recorded
elsewhere in Staffordshire.
5.7.3 None of the base line surveys indicate that there are rare or sensitive
species present that would suffer from increasing grazing at Wetley
5.8 Conclusion and management Implications from survey work
5.8.1 The heather condition survey by Penny Anderson 2001 (Appendix „D‟)
states in section 3·19
the regeneration potential is present to replace heather if it is
removed, by whatever means. There is, however substantial
competition from the Purple Moor Grass particularly and in
several places the heather appears to be out competed by this
5.8.2 Competition from Purple Moor Grass is most evident where cutting or
fire damage has been carried out in the dominant National Vegetation
Community at the Wetley Moor – the H9e Calluna vulgaris –
Deschampsia flexuosa heath; Molinea caerulea sub community with
Calluna co-dominant with Molinea.
5.8.3 The Heather Condition Survey carried out by Penny Anderson in 2001
(Appendix „D‟) further concludes in section 3·20 that:
It appears that the Purple Moor Grass is becoming more
abundant at the expense of the heather, as might be expected if
new heather seedlings find it difficult to establish and that the
grasses are not contained by grazing.
5.8.4 Heather condition surveys carried out in 1994 and 2001, English Nature
common standards condition assessment 2001 and the vegetation
monitoring transects 2000, all indicate the site is in an unfavourable
and declining condition as a result of the following:
An excess of Purple Moor Grass
Dominance of old tall heather
Thick carpets of acrocarpous moss
A lack of bare ground
Lack of a fine mosaic of different ages or heights of heather
5.8.5 Current management techniques are not creating a heathland SSSI in
favourable or improving condition.
5.8.6 Between 1995 and 2001, 29 hectares of scrub were cleared under the
Wetley Moor Management Plan 1995. The remaining areas of invading
scrub have been prioritised for clearance in the Wetley Moor
Management Plan 2001 – 2005. At a cost of £1,000 per hectare this is
expensive and not sustainable by Wetley Moor Joint Committee in the
long term. Without grazing to follow up this scrub clearance
programme Birch and Willow seedlings will invade and cause the
heathland to change to woodland.
5.8.7 Since 1995 there has been extensive heather cutting and accidental
fires at Wetley Moor as shown in Appendix „B‟. Heather cutting is not
an option that can be used across the entire site due to the very
tussocky, mossy, wet ground that exists in some places. The results of
surveys indicate these are areas suffering most from loss of heather
and where heather is being out competed most vigorously by Purple
Moor Grass. Obtaining the specialist contractors on a regular basis to
carry out heather cutting has been problematic.
5.8.8 Burning as a management tool is no more effective than cutting – some
wet areas of the site would preclude the use of burning. There is the
added complication of copycat uncontrolled fires, caused by vandals if
burning was used as a management tool. Burning may also ignite
underlying coal seams. Because of the old degenerate nature of the
heather burning may further encourage regeneration by Purple Moor
Grass. The dominance of Purple Moor Grass on areas of the
heathland that have been subject to fires caused accidentally or by
vandals would support this theory.
5.8.9 Cutting and burning are both much more intrusive in terms of their
landscape impact than grazing. Cutting will always create rectangular
or oblong landscape scars, because of the very nature of the machines.
5.8.10 In areas where cutting has been carried out, there is evidence that
Purple Moor Grass is out-competing the young heather plants. Cutting
alone has not led to an improvement in the ecological condition of the
heathland. Neither cutting nor burning can mimic the fine mosaic of
different vegetation types and height that can be created by grazing.
This allows the creation of a range of microhabitats that can not be
achieved through more artificial methods. Neither cutting or burning
can selectively remove Purple Moor Grass this can only be achieved by
5.8.11 Present levels of grazing carried out by the commoner is inadequate to
Remove enough vegetation to create bare areas of ground to
enable heather to set seed.
Stop Purple Moor Grass and thick carpets of acrocarpous moss
dominating the site
Create a fine mosaic of heather heights and ages across the site
5.8.12 Additional grazing is required to meet these conservation management
6 Examples of best practice in heathland management from elsewhere
6.1 Best practice from other heathland sites indicates that grazing is used as an
important management tool, to keep the heathland in favourable condition.
6.2 Between 1989 and 2000 free ranging summer grazing involving the erection
of fencing and access features, was established on at least 8 heathland sites
in Dorset. All these sites have access for the public by way of Public Rights of
Way. Summary details for these sites is given in Appendix „I‟.
6.3 Arne Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) reserve in Dorset is a
large heathland site managed by the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds.
Despite at least 20 years of intensive management involving scrub removal,
burning and rotational cutting of vegetation using teams of residential
volunteers and up to four permanent staff it was still felt necessary to
introduce summer grazing by cattle in 1998. Between 1998 and 2001
intensive monitoring suggested grazing was having a beneficial effect on the
vegetation structure of the heathland communities.
6.4 Grazing is an important management tool at heathland sites in the Midlands.
Grazing is essential for the maintenance of Sutton Park, a large 900 hectare
urban heathland site with open access in the centre of Birmingham managed
by Birmingham City Council.
6.5 Grazing has been introduced to Bickerton Hill in Cheshire. Bickerton Hill is a
114 hectare heathland site managed by the National Trust. Grazing was
introduced following an intensive programme of Birch and Pine scrub removal.
Grazing is being used to stop the re-invasion of scrub and is already helping
to create a varied age structure in the heather communities.
6.6 In 2002 Cannock Chase District Council was given permission from the
Secretary of State to install fencing and access features at Hendesford Hills
Common under the Law of Property Act 1925. Hendesford Hills is an SSSI
lowland heathland and grazing was considered necessary to manage the site
in a sustainable way. A copy of the decision letter relating to Hendesford Hills
appears in Appendix „J‟. The issues relating to Hendesford Hills highlighted
on page 2 of Appendix „J‟, closely match those in the application submitted by
7 Details of the Proposed Grazing Trial
7.1 Details of fencing and access features
7.1.1 Fencing is essential to enable grazing to take place. Fencing will stop
stock from straying on to roads surrounding the trial area and causing a
danger to traffic and themselves. The alternative to fencing would be to
have continuous shepherded grazing. The feasibility of this was
investigated during the consultation process. An advert was placed for
shepherded grazing in local newspapers but here was no interest.
WMJC concluded shepherded grazing was not a practical option. Best
practice from other recently established heathland grazing schemes is
that stock is enclosed within a fenced area.
7.1.2 The map in Appendix „K‟ shows the location of the proposed 480
metres of fencing. All fencing will consist of post and three strands of
barbed wire. The longest stretch of proposed fencing is 190 metres.
This fencing is the upgrading of existing fencing as shown in
photograph 1 of Appendix „K‟. The existing fencing has been in place
at least 12 years and a previous fence was in place along the line of the
existing fence prior to that.
7.1.3 The current plain wire fence will be replaced by barbed wire. A further
70 metres of new fencing is proposed next to the boundary of the
common adjacent to an existing stone wall at point 2 on the plan. [It is
recognised that as these 2 sections of fencing follow the line of fencing
that has existed for more than 12 years and that permission under the
Law of Property Act 1925 for the fencing may not be required]
7.1.4 Appendix ‟K‟ shows the location of 120m of roadside fencing next to
Eaves Lane shown by photographs 3 and 4. The fencing will be
parallel to a line of bollards and be positioned 2 metres back from the
road edge. The bollards have been in place since 1985. Photograph 5
shows 60 metres of proposed fencing again along an existing line of
bollards next to Swift Lane. These bollards have also been in place
7.1.5 Forty metres of internal fencing is proposed. This fencing will occur at
two-pinch points where access is already restricted as shown in
photographs 6 and 7 in Appendix „K‟. The fencing will surround field
gates and bridle gates that will provide access through these pinch
points. Three-quarters of the proposed trial grazing area is already
fenced. The new fencing will have little additional visual impact and
present no practical restriction to access.
7.1.6 Photograph 8 shows the location of the cattle-grid. The cattle-grid
would occupy the width of the road. A cattle-grid specification is
included in Appendix „L‟. The cattle-grid would not necessarily be a
permanent feature and could be removed and filled in at the end of the
trial if this is necessary.
7.1.7 Seven self-closing bridle gates would be installed. A design
specification for these is presented in Appendix „M‟. Standard 12 feet
wide wooden field gates would be installed at the locations shown on
the map to allow access for the Commoner and grazier. A photograph
showing an example of the type of gate is given in Appendix „M‟. This
is exactly the same type of gate installed at the request of residents in
1990 on other parts of Wetley Moor to stop vehicles illegally driving on
the common. Five gates of this type already exist at the locations
shown on the attached plan.
7.2 Details of livestock management
7.2.1 Ten cattle will initially be grazed in the trial grazing area. The number
is in line with recommendations from English Nature, of the number of
cattle required to restore the heathland vegetation communities.
Grazing will be for a six-month period typically between May and
October each year. The total number of cattle may adjusted on an
annual basis dependent on the results of monitoring the condition of the
7.2.2 Cattle are the preferred grazing stock on Wetley Moor for a number of
Wetley Moor has a history of cattle grazing
The wet nature of the site makes it more suitable for grazing by
Sheep would tend to avoid the wetter parts of the site – the very
areas where there is the most problems of Purple Moor Grass
Other heathlands with wet conditions have used cattle for
The problem of dogs worrying sheep on a site heavily used by
walkers and dog walkers.
7.2.3 The grazier will be subject to the terms of a grazing licence. This
system operates successfully at other sites owned and managed by
Staffordshire Moorlands District Council such as Biddulph Grange
Country Park, Ladderedge Country Park in Leek and Brough Park
Fields in Leek. The use of grazing licences has been successful in
other heathland grazing schemes. For example at Arne RSPB reserve
and Grange Heath RSPB Reserve in Dorset.
7.2.4 The grazing licence will stipulate that liability for the welfare of livestock
will be with the grazier. Liability for any damage caused by livestock to
adjacent property, should cattle escape from the trial grazing area, will
lie with the grazier. The grazing licence will insist on daily monitoring of
stock by the grazier. WMJC will have the right to terminate the grazing
licence agreement should any breach in the terms of the agreement or
damage to the trial area become apparent.
7.2.5 Existing ponds would be widened and deepened to provide water for
grazing livestock. If additional water was required during dry periods
then a mobile water bowser and water trough would be used. These
methods of providing water have proved to be highly effective at
Grange Heath RSPB reserve in Dorset where I helped establish a new
grazing project on this 69 hectare heathland site in 1995.
7.2.6 The public would be informed of the presence of grazing cattle by signs
erected at every access point to the proposed trial grazing area.
7.3 Health and safety – mining features
7.3.1 A survey to identify mining features at Wetley Moor was carried out by
consultant mining engineers in 1995 and 2001. There are no known
mining features recorded within the proposed trail grazing area. The
map in Appendix „N‟ shows the location of recorded mining features at
Wetley Moor. The mining features were classified as being low risk to
the public. The mining consultants concluded that increasing the
number of grazing livestock would not increase the likelihood of a
mining feature collapse occurring.
8 How will the grazing trial be monitored
8.1 The aim of a trial grazing area is to confirm that grazing can be carried out
effectively at Wetley Moor. The aim of introducing grazing is not to create a
scientific trial to compare grazing with cutting and burning as management
methods. There is ample evidence that grazing has improved the quality of
the heathland ecosystem at many other sites.
8.2 The aim of monitoring is to see if grazing can bring additional benefits in
reducing the dominance of Purple Moor Grass and acrocarpous mosses,
increasing the amount of bare ground and young heather. Additionally the
aim of the trial is to allow the practicalities of grazing Wetley Moor to be tested
a) to prove that an annual grazier could be sustained under a grazing
licence before the expense of fencing the entire common was carried
b) To assess the day to day practicalities of keeping stock within a fenced
area on Wetley Moor.
8.3 Removal of invasive scrub will be carried out inside the trial area and outside
the grazing compartment. However, vegetation cutting with the removal of
cuttings will only be carried out outside the trial grazing area on other areas of
the common. This would allow a comparison of grazing and cutting as
different management methods.
8.4 Monitoring of vegetation on Hartland Moor in Dorset by English Nature
showed a significant difference in the structure of the vegetation over a 5 year
period. The suggested monitoring period of 5 years should be sufficient time
to show a significant change in the condition of the heathland at Wetley Moor.
8.5 Monitoring would consist of carrying out a Common standards lowland
heathland condition assessment on an annual basis using the methodology
described in Appendix „G‟. A similar condition survey would be carried out
outside the trial grazing area. This monitoring will provide a comparison of the
overall condition of the heathland inside and outside the trial area, by
reference to a nationally accepted target for heathland quality.
8.6 The Heather Condition Survey carried out by Penny Anderson Ecological
consultants in 2001 would also be repeated after the 5 year trial to allow a
comparison of the trial area with the rest of the heathland area.
8.7 Fixed point annual record photographs would be taken of the trial area and of
areas outside the trial for comparison. This would allow a visual analysis of
the structure of the vegetation and a proportion of heather.
9 List of Appendices
Appendix A: Map showing the location of scrub removed 1995 -
Appendix B: Map showing the location of heather cutting areas and
known accidental fires 1995 – 2002
Appendix C: Summary of heather condition survey and vegetation
survey by Jerram 1994
Appendix D: Heather condition survey by Penny Anderson
Ecological Consultants 2001
Appendix E: Maps showing a comparison of the heather condition
survey 1994 and 2001
Appendix F: Map showing the location of photographs of heather cut
areas and areas suffering fire damage
Appendix G: Summary of English Nature common standards lowland
heathland condition assessment 2001
Appendix H: Vegetation monitoring transect data 2000
Appendix I: Table summarising best practice management
techniques at other heathland sites, where grazing has
Appendix J: Copy of a decision letter relating to Cannock Chase
District Council‟s successful application under Section
194 of the Law of Property Act 1925
Appendix K: Map and photographs showing the location of proposed
fencing and access features
Appendix L: Specification for cattle grid
Appendix M: Design of bridle gates and field gates
Appendix N: Wetley Moor Mining Study 2001 – extracts from maps