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Tuesday, 29 March 2011 (3013564)
Sheep plan approved
by Natasha Young

CONTROVERSIAL plans to build sheep grazing pens on Ainsdale and Birkdale's sand dunes were approved by Sefton Council's cabinet member for leisure and tourism last week.

At a meeting last Wednesday (March 23), Councillor Mike Booth agreed the council should enter a Higher Level Stewardship (HLS) agreement with Natural England and receive a revenue grant or nearly £55,000 and more than £103,500 to build the pens, despite opposition from the Friends of Ainsdale and Birkdale Local Nature Reserve Group.

Following the meeting, Cllr Booth defended the decision, and said: “One point of view is that the council is only doing it for the money but that's not the case. It's the best way to manage that site for the next 10 years, and sheep grazing is the best way of maintaining the scrub to the level it's at now.”

He added that the money will also pay for two full time rangers to manage that are of the dunes, and denied the public's access to the area will be resitricted.

“Wherever people walk now they can still walk,” he added. “Pens will be in more remote areas anyway, and if there are well used paths there we will put gates in.”

During the meeting, campaigners delivered a petition against the proposal asking for a public consultation on the matter, and claimed there is no scientific evidence that grazing has any benefits.


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