Equine bailiffs “quite confident” horses left illegally on Barnham Cross Common will be removed before Thetford Town Council have to pay out

Thetford Town Council is undertaking a environmental project on Barnham Cross Common.

Thetford Town Council is undertaking a environmental project on Barnham Cross Common. - Credit: Archant

Two horses which have been left to illegally graze on common land could end up costing a town council up to £7,000 to remove.

The 'well cared for' horses were left on Barnham Cross Common, in Thetford, on Monday, May 8.

The town council, which owns the Site of Special Scientific Interest, is appealing to the horses' owner to remove them from the land by 9am on Thursday.

After that time they will become council property.

At a special full council meeting held on Tuesday night, Roz Barnett, amenities, land and property officer, said equine bailiffs are 'quite confident' the owner will pick the horses up by Thursday.

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They have been checked over by World Horse Welfare and are said to be in good condition.

The council will have the option of selling the horses, rehoming them via a charity or horse sanctuary, or having them humanely destroyed - rehoming them is the council's 'preferred choice'.

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The cost of removing the horses, including handlers and transport, veterinary checks, microchips and passports, livery and rehoming or humane destruction, could end up costing the council up to £7,000 in total.

However, calls are set to be made to rehoming centres to see if the costs can be reduced.

Although public grazing was previously allowed at the site it was found to be detrimental to the growth of the natural plants and wildlife.

The last grazing license was issued in 2002 but there have been spates of illegal grazing.

The council's conservation project, in partnership with Natural England, has seen tree felling and the clearing of invasive scrub at the common.

From Monday grazing animals will be introduced to help maintain the area's natural habitat.

Many endangered plants can be found within the common including perennial Knawel and tower mustard.

More than 60 bird species call the site home and managing the grassland will also help to attract and re-establish ground nesting birds such as woodlarks and nightjar.

If anyone has any information about the horse owners they are asked to contact Thetford Town Council on 01842 754247.

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