Friends of Quantock takes action to protect their land on Quantock Common from vehicle damage.
Work is beginning next week to protect an area of Quantock Common owned by Friends of Quantock and regularly damaged by unauthorised car parking on the grassland along the road. Quantock Common is a designated Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI), a nationally important wildlife site, but it has had a growing problem with cars badly churning up the turf during wet weather. Concern is growing about water run-off damaging the nearby sensitive acid mire and archaeological remains are also at risk. The need for action has become especially obvious with the influx of new visitors during the pandemic.
A shallow ditch and low bank will be dug along a total of about 350m of the 1800m-long east side of the Nether Stowey to Crowcombe road. This will be done only where the terrain or old banks aren’t already enough of a barrier and will be just big enough to deter unauthorised parking.
Friends of Quantock are the independent conservation charity for the Quantock Hills and are owners of the land along the South side of the Over Stowey – Crowcombe road. They are dedicated to the conservation and protection of all the landscape of the Quantock Hills for the benefit of the public and for future generations. They continue to support a separate scheme to provide improved parking for public access at Crowcombe Park Gate as part of the QLPS.
Friends of Quantock has obtained the necessary legal consent under the Commons Act 2006, as well as the agreement of the Quantock Hills AONB, the Quantock Commoners Association and Natural England.
The work has been commissioned by Friends of Quantock with assistance from the Quantock Landscape Partnership Scheme (QLPS) and will be carried out from 7th March – it should take about three days. QLPS Historic Heritage Officer Dan Broadbent will be keeping an eye on the work in case anything archaeologically interesting is uncovered.
Although we understand this will be disappointing news to some regular visitors, it is vital work to prevent further damage to the common. Parking is still available in the area at Crowcombe Park Gate, Withyman’s Pool and Dead Woman’s Ditch.
Notes to editors:
About Friends of Quantock
Friends of Quantock is a Charitable Incorporated Organisation “To promote for the benefit of the public the conservation protection and improvement of the landscape and natural environment of the Quantock Hills.” In 2013 they acquired the freehold to several parts of the common land of the Quantocks from the County Council.
The Friends of Quantock website is at www.friendsofquantock.com
About the Quantock LPS
The Quantock Landscape Partnership Scheme (QLPS) is a £2.6m, 5 year project in and around the Quantock Hills, hosted and led by the Quantock Hills AONB. The project area is some 400 square kilometres, essentially the Quantock Hills proper plus the surrounding ring of Parishes. This is roughly twice the size of the AONB.
Landscape Partnership Schemes are all about looking after a particular landscape, in this case the Quantock Hills, and they are about partnership working, bringing a diverse range of interests together to make a real difference to people and place.
The Scheme will protect and restore the distinctive features of the Quantock landscape, improve management of the access pressures on the Hills, and make the health and wellbeing benefits of recreation more available to communities in the surrounding towns and villages. It will also increase understanding of the development of the Manorial landscape, how it underpins the character of the Quantocks, and of the wider natural, built and cultural heritage of the area.
The QLPS is 69% funded by the National Lottery Heritage Fund, with additional funding from Hinkley Point C s106, the National Trust, Friends of Quantock, and the AONB itself. Volunteer time as help in kind is also a big part of the funding package.
For more information about the Quantock Landscape Partnership Scheme, contact;
Landscape Partnership Scheme Manager
or visit the website www.qlps.org
Common Land in England and Wales
There are often misconceptions about what Common Land is. It is not ownerless, or owned by everyone, or any sort of free for all. Put simply, it is land owned by one person (or body) over which certain other specified people have certain specified rights, or at least land where this was once the case. All Common Land, by definition, is registered under 1965 Commons Registration Act, along with the rights of any commoners if they still exist. Rights will typically be to graze a certain number of animals, collect firewood, stone, or other “cottage” products, and be attached to particular properties. There are about 60 rights of various kinds registered for Quantock Common, but only the rights to graze cattle, sheep, and ponies are still used to any extent.
Under the Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000 the public have a right of access on foot to all registered Common Land. There is no right to park on Common Land, and parking on Common Land without the landowner’s consent more than 15 yards from a public road is actually an offence (quite apart from any civil trespass against the landowner).
Under s.38 of the Commons Act 2006 the consent of the Secretary of State is required for most works on Common Land – this act simplified the old procedure under The Law of Property Act 1925. Applicants must formally consult a long list of interested parties (Commoners, Parish Councils, statutory bodies, etc), and advertise the proposal on site and in the local paper. After a month any submissions are then considered by the Planning Inspectorate who decide whether or not to give consent. In the case of this application, no objections were received, and consent was granted on 22nd December 2021.