Two more horses illegally left on Barnham Cross Common, Thetford, as council prepare to move onto the site’s next stage in conservation project
- Credit: Archant
Four horses which have been illegally left on a common, known for its rare plant species, should be rehomed by next week as the site prepares for the next stage of a conservation project.
Two 'well cared for' horses were left on Barnham Cross Common, Thetford, on Monday, May 8.
Pleas from the town council, which owns the site, for the owner to collect them went unanswered and they became council property.
A special council meeting was called last week to discuss the first two horses after the authority revealed the cost of removing them could be up to £7,000.
This included handling and transport costs, veterinary checks, microchips and passports, livery and rehoming.
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However a foal and another horse were then left on the common at the beginning of this week.
An interest has been expressed to rehome all four of the horses and at a lower cost.
It comes as the town council look to reintroduce cattle and sheep to graze on the site after a more than 40 year absence.
Grazing animals is the next stage in a conservation project to encourage the growth of rare plant species on the Site of Special Scientific Interest.
On Thursday a small herd of Dexter Galloway Cross cattle will call the common home and these will be joined next week by a small flock of native breed of Beulah sheep.
A spokesman for the council said: 'The Common is internationally recognised because it is rare grassland heaths and associated species.
'The town council has carried out extensive restoration works and a management plan for the site, approved by Natural England, includes the introduction of grazing animals.
'Having animals grazing the common is crucial for providing the right habitat for the rare plants that inhabit the common.
'Once regularly grazed again it should produce a varied grass sward and open patches suitable for many of the Breckland specialities such as spring and fingered speedwell, perennial knawel and Spanish Catchfly.'
Initially grazing will be introduced to the Nunnery Drive side of the common.
People can choose to avoid the animals by using the Elm Road side of the common or perimeter areas.
Signs will remind dog walkers that dogs must to be on a lead in areas with livestock and in all areas between March 1 and July 31.
The council have said fly grazing is not allowed on the site because of conservation and animal welfare. The common also has to be carefully managed and this cannot be done by animals who are illegally left on the common.
Despite being owned by the council, Barnham Cross Common is designated as Open Access land under the Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000.
This means that the public has a right of access that is protected by law.