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April 5, 2013



Snettisham Beach/Common CL378

This has been common land, first registered in 1766, and more recently registered under the Commons 1965 registration Act. The inhabitants of Snettisham have the legal ‘right’ to take ‘shingle’ for their own uses, anywhere on the 57.627 hectares of the common.

CL378 common is made up of individual land owners including the RSPB who have a reserve within the common. After registration under the 1965 Act the RSPB challenged in the high court claiming the registration was incorrect. The RSPB lost this claim.

In 2010 a few chalet owners have erected signs which are misleading and thus contravene the CRoW Act 2000 section 14. These owners also erected a gate on common land and fencing on RSPB land, with RSPB approval. These were removed by the Parish Council, by abatement in 2011. Public Rights Of Way officer Mr D. Mills recommended to the Parish Council that they should make an application for a DMMO to have a footpath recorded. This they did, and the decision is due at the end of August 2012. This footpath application is to legally record the ancient footpath within CL378 which has been walked for hundreds of years.

Natural England asked the owner of the signs a Mr Chapman to either remove their logo and/or replace the signs with signs that are not misleading. Mr Chapman’s response has been to put up additional signage which adds to the misleading information available to the public on their arrival at the beach. Natural England’s logo was used without their consent on the original signs. Furthermore Natural England and the Open Spaces Society agree Mr Chapman’s signs are misleading regarding public access and completely understate the access to the public under CRoW Act 2000. Mr D. Mills NCC PROW officer was told by Natural England in their opinion these signs could be misleading in 2009 – Mr D. Mills reply was ‘NCC have no intensions of taking any actions over these signs while a DMMO application is being considered’ We have tried on many occasions without success via dialogue with NCC and through our MP Henry Bellingham to resolve these issues, but to date this matter still remains unresolved.

Currently people with common ‘right to remove shingle’ and members of the public with the right of access under the CRoW Act 2000 are being challenged by individual chalet owners, sometimes this has led to altercations with incidents being reported to the police.

We have substantial independent supportive evidence to confirm our position and comments.

Much frustration has been caused by the fact that the RSPB and NCC PROW officer appear to have alienated themselves with the chalet owners, who do not want people walking in front of their beach chalets/caravans. RSPB have been told by Natural England the contents of the signs they are allowing on access land they own, are legally incorrect but RSPB will not remove them.

A group of people got together from the village to look into things after the gate and fence was erected and have uncovered many other issues. Like approximately 9 acres of common land being fenced in with common right holders unable to access the land. RSPB has allowed their land to be claimed by chalet owners in an effort to stop the marine and coastal access footpath. Now some of the owners are saying ‘you are trespassing on our private land’. Public toilet block demolished to prevent the public walking the ancient footpath, which had been there for 60 years. Protestors have been handing out a written statement quoting the ‘right to take shingle’ and telling people who are verbally challenged to call the police and report it. Mostly women and elderly are being challenged!

The footpath issue has been exacerbated by the Sandringham Estate allowing the RSPB to place a permissive footpath on their land encouraging RSPB members to use this footpath and not walk on land owned by the RSPB, whilst in effect giving their land away to chalet owners.

DMMO decision is anxiously awaited by all concerned.

We will continue to fight to get this issues resolved.

Contribution by Lillian Richardson.



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