Pressure groups fight fencing plan in Lake District’s wilderness

We are backing our member the Friends of the Lake District in fighting a plan by United Utilities to erect fencing on common land in the heart of the Lake District National Park.

Summit of Ullscarf approximately on fence line.  Looking west from fell towards Great Gable. Photo: Ian Brodie
United Utilities has applied to erect nearly ten kilometres of new fencing at the South Western end of Thirlmere, enclosing 866 hectares (more than three square miles) of wild fellside. It would run along the boundary of Whelpside, Steel End, West Head, Armboth, Bleaberry and Wythburn Fells Common.UU claims that it needs to reduce stock grazing to reduce the amount of eroded vegetation being washed into watercourses.

We strongly object to this intrusion into this wild, unspoilt landscape of the Lake District National Park. Not only is fencing an eyesore, but it prevents people from roaming freely over the whole area as is their right. The Open Spaces Society won public access to the commons around Thirlmere in 1897 when it campaigned for such clauses in the Manchester Corporation Act which led to the construction of Thirlmere. We are not prepared to see those rights infringed.

Although the application is for 15 years, we strongly suspect that the fencing will remain for longer. We are dismayed that UU appears not to have developed its long-term plans for the area. Instead of using this drastic means of restricting stock, UU should gather more data and assess whether there are other solutions.

Says Ian Brodie, former director of the Friends of the Lake District: ‘The proposed fence will be one of the greatest threats the Lake District has faced to the traditional openness and freedom of the fells. It will impact on many walkers each year and it appears to run contrary to the principles of the bid for World Heritage inscription which United Utilities are supposedly supporting.’

Objections can be sent before 16 February to the Planning Inspectorate at Room 3/25B Hawk Wing, Temple Quay House, 2 The Square, Bristol BS1 6PN or email commonlandcasework@pins.gsi.gov.uk.