Council deny concerns that goats brought in to protect Cromer beauty spot are destroying it

Goats are released on Melbourne slope in Cromer to help with keeping the slope vegetation clear. Pic

Goats are released on Melbourne slope in Cromer to help with keeping the slope vegetation clear. Picture: MARK BULLIMORE

North Norfolk District Council unleashed eight Bagot billies - Britain's oldest breed of goat - on the town's cliff tops as part of a new habitat management project to help with the control of scrubland.

Goats are released on Melbourne slope in Cromer to help with keeping the slope vegetation clear. Pic

Goats are released on Melbourne slope in Cromer to help with keeping the slope vegetation clear. Picture: MARK BULLIMORE

Fears have been voiced that goats brought in to protect a beauty spot in Cromer were actually in danger of causing its destruction.

North Norfolk District Council unleashed eight Bagot billies - Britain's oldest breed of goat - on the town's cliff tops as part of a new habitat management project to help with the control of scrubland.

It was hoped their grazing near to the Melbourne Slope would keep unwanted plant species and excessive growth to a minimum in an area which had become overgrown, leading to a problem with litter embedded and snagged in bushes.

However, just weeks after they were put to work, Cromer Town Council this week heard that the money saving initiative, designed to cut down on the cost of mechanical clearing of the land, had left the local authority with something to chew on.

Goats are released on Melbourne slope in Cromer to help with keeping the slope vegetation clear. Pic

North Norfolk district councillor Angie Fitch-Tillett. - Credit: Mark Bullimore


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Addressing this month's meeting of Cromer Town Council, Councillor Timothy Bartlett said: 'I understand it has not been as successful as they hoped it would be.'

Town council clerk, Julie Chance responded: 'There was a bit of concern about them causing erosion so they are moving them to the other side of the steps.'

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The habitat grazing project was developed with support from Suffolk Wildlife Trust and the goats arrived with the district council in April.

Two came from the Dinosaur Park near Lenwade in Norfolk, and the other six from Levens Hall, Cumbria where they are raised as a semi-feral parkland breed.

Hand-over of the Keep it Cromer petition to The Cromer Crab Company bosses. Tim Bartlett (Chairman o

Hand-over of the Keep it Cromer petition to The Cromer Crab Company bosses. Tim Bartlett (Chairman of North Norfolk Labour Party).PHOTO: ANTONY KELLY - Credit: © ARCHANT NORFOLK PHOTOGRAPHIC

The goats were released into the fenced-off area in June and expected to remain until October or November when they were due to be taken to other council owned land to graze over the winter.

And the local authority confirmed the goats would be moved but insisted everything has gone according to plan.

Responding to this week's concerns, Councillor Angie Fitch-Tillett, NNDC's cabinet member for coastal management, said: 'The introduction of the Bagot goats to the cliff-top in Cromer has been very successful.

'They have eaten back the vegetation even faster than anticipated. As this is a trial, we were unsure how quickly they would graze the existing rough plant materials, and we were aware they would need to be moved from spot to spot as they carried out their work for us.

'Everything has gone according to plan and we take pasture management of the site very seriously.'

The Bagot goat habitat management project cost £6,000, with £4,800 spent on fencing and £350 on goats.

The initial mechanical clearing of the land cost £15,000 and without the goats would have to be repeated each time the area became overgrown.

Councillor Fitch-Tillett said: 'The Bagot goats are proving so useful we have identified other local sites in Holt Country Park and Happy Valley that would benefit from grazing to remove unwanted species and return wildflowers to the areas.'

And she added: 'The goats will be moved from the cliff during carnival week to avoid them getting spooked by the Red Arrows display and fireworks.'

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