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Fly Grazing Ponies

Removal of Fly Grazing Ponies has cost Thetford Council £7620 in the last 3 months

Thetford Town Council has fenced Barnham Cross Common to introduce a programme of grazing so that rare Breckland plant species can thrive on the common.  Since the fencing was completed, twelve ponies have been left illegally on the common. The Town Council agreed to have any unauthorised ponies removed as quickly as possible to deter anyone considering illegal grazing on the Town Council’s land.

Some residents have questioned why the town council is removing the horses from the common. Residents have suggested it would be good to have ‘wild’ ponies roaming the common like Exmoor. The council researched whether this would be possible and found out that all the Exmoor ponies belong to someone and are only wild in the sense they are allowed to roam.

This means that to leave the ponies on the common the Town Council would have to take on the legal ownership of the ponies and associated costs. Horse welfare charities estimate that the cost of keeping a horse is around £6,000 a year. This level of expenditure would not be sustainable for the Town Council. Councillors were also concerned that if the horses were allowed to stay, Barnham Cross Common could get a reputation and the problems could escalate with more horses being left to illegally graze.

The Town Council has contracted the grazing out to a local farmer who has the responsibility for the sheep and the cattle. At the moment the cattle and sheep are on site all the time however once the majority of the vegetation is removed the animals will only be on the common at certain times of the year and will have to be removed during the flowering season. This would mean that the council would have to pay to have the horses moved and pay for pasture on an alternative site.

The Council are now considering how to stop the horses getting onto the site and are exploring options of how to prevent horses accessing the common. Some options being considered are height restrictions on the carparks to stop horse boxes from entering.

The Town Council are calling on residents to report anyone trying to leave horses on the common. In office hours you can ring the Town Council Offices on 01842 754247 or in out of office hours ring the police on 101.

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