Morons on the moors

Well, I've just been on what must be the most depressing patrol of my time as a Ranger. Not only did the weathermen get it completely wrong and I got completely soaked, but I had the disheartening task of recording the serious and systematic vandalism of the new fence that has been put around Bleaklow as part of the attempt to regenerate the moorland. When I got to the Briefing Centre this morning, Fiona said that one of the local Gamekeepers had reported that a fence had been cut above Salter's Brook on the A628, and she asked me if I'd check it out. Sure enough, it was the new stock exclusion fence that had been chopped.

The vandalism started at Far Small Clough Head and I counted 38 places where the fence had been cut between there and Swain's Greave, a distance of about 2km - and that wasn't the end of it, I could see more cuts in the fence as hit headed east towards Barrow Stones. God knows how much further the damage goes but I'd run out of time and had to head for home. I temporarily fixed the first dozen or so sections, but whoever did it had quite clearly come prepared and has spent some considerable time performing their vandalism - the holes are every 50-100m, and they've cut the fence either side of two adjacent posts and entirely removed a section. In some places they've cut it by stiles, and in some places even next to the notices that explain that the fence is to keep stock out and not people. Needless to say, the sheep are already inside the fenced off area.

I'm at a loss to find the words to express my mixture of dismay and fury over what they've done - the damage is not just near footpaths, but right across the open moor. Whoever did this knew the area, had been before and came back with the tools necessary to destroy the fence. I'm sure the morons responsible feel that they were 'justified' in 'protecting their rights' despite the fact the land is actually privately owned and looked after. I'm also sure that if someone came and vandalised their property they'd be the ones baying for the blood of the offenders.

The fact of the matter is that because of their cretinous and downright criminal behaviour, everyone will lose:

  • This sort of behaviour undermines decades of careful liaison with the landowners to establish access to the land - if it was my fence that had been destroyed I'd be making a strong case for people to be excluded completely from my land - and yes, despite many people's belief to the contrary, landowners can still get access removed - for example for nature conservation purposes.
  • The fence is there for a reason - to protect and therefore help to repair the moors, and that's now been jeopardised.
  • The damage will have to be repaired, and I estimate that there is at least 5-10 thousand pounds of damage - not only is there the cost of the materials, and the labour to put the fence up, there's also the small matter of having to hire a helicopter at 800 pounds per hour to fly it in as the terrain is too fragile for vehicle access.
  • The landowner is paid for maintaining the fence, and for excluding his stock - if the fence is cut, DEFRA stop paying the farmer, so he get's hit by a double whammy.
  • The repairs will probably have to be paid for by DEFRA, i.e, the government, i.e. by taxes, i.e. by you, me and indeed the prats who cut the fence in the first place.

Re: Morons on the moors

This sort of vandalism is appalling, it really bothers me that the access for the responsible users of the countryside is put in jeapordy. Even worse, in my opinion, are the motorised vehicles that can legally churn up the fragile green lanes and other bridleways. They do not seem to care about the environment and other users. If they would ride/drive more responsibly that would not be so bad but they seem to deliberately cut up the tracks by gunning their engines and spinning their wheels. K Woodward -