Warcop grazing rights row rumbles on

First published in News The Westmorland Gazette: Photograph of the Author by

A ROW over grazing rights around Warcop Training Area near Appleby has still not been resolved – six months after consultation over the future of the common land ended.

The Ministry of Defence launched two months of talks over its bid to have common land at Warcop, Murton and Hilton de-registered last May.

But the Federation of Cumbria Commoners, which opposes the move, said this week it had still to learn the outcome.

The FCC said the MoD should not be allowed to renege on an undertaking it made at a public inquiry in 2001 not to seek de-registration.

At the time, military chiefs argued that the commoners’ right to graze sheep in the area was interfering with soldiers’ live-fire training.

Although the MoD owned the freehold of the training ground, part of the ‘danger area’, in which ricochets fell, was common land.

Following the inquiry, the MoD won its right to have livestock removed – but in return it was agreed that common grazing could resume when the area was no longer needed.

Lt Col Philip Jennings, of the defence training estate, said the MoD was ‘committed to protecting the long-term future status’ of its land at Warcop.

He said a change in legislation under the Commons Act of 2006 rendered its original undertaking ‘no longer appropriate’.

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Under the new proposals, the MoD would create a ‘small number of limited Common Rights’ if the Warcop Training Area was ever sold.

The FCC complained to the MoD that it had not been included in the consultation last year.

The federation, which was set up in 2003 and has around 700 members, said it ‘strongly opposes’ the proposal for the common land around Warcop, claiming that as it was classified ‘waste of manor’ it could not, therefore, be de-registered.

In a formal submission, the federation’s committee described the MoD’s move as ‘flawed’ and urged the Secretary of State for Defence to reject it.

A Defence Infrastructure Organisation spokesman said: “We are still awaiting the outcome.”

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