THE coordinator of Save Penwith Moors action group, set up to stop farmers grazing cattle, building fences and cattle grids at the ancient Nine Maidens stone circle, has resigned from his long held position as ancient sites monitor with a protection network.
Ian Cooke, an artist and author of Men-an-Tol studio, said the fact that the protection network – called Cornish Ancient Sites Protection Network (CASPN) – “actually supports the cattle grazing plan undermines the rationale for its own existence”.
CASPN, founded by a group of enterprising pagans in 1997, is a charitable organisation formed to look after Cornwall's ancient sites.
However, Save Penwith Moors action group believes CASP is being influenced by its own representatives, including The National Trust, Cornwall County Council's Historic Environment Service and Natural England, which are promoting the cattle grazing project.
Cheryl Straffon, CASPN coordinator, said the organisation “utterly refutes” allegations of bias.
“We looked at the Nine Maidens Common proposals in detail and discussed them in depth, and were unanimous in supporting option one of the consultation, which provides for cattle grids and minimal stock proof fencing.
“The benefits would be control of the ever-encroaching gorse and bracken that chokes many of the ancient barrows there, and a disincentive to off-road vehicles who illegally ride on the moors,” she said.
Save Penwith Moors is protesting against the cattle grazing plan on the grounds that the Nine Maidens and Men-an-Tol could be damaged by the cattle.
“We believe cattle could also be a serious threat to the many visitors and schoolchildren who visit, and suspect that somewhere down the line the public's right to roam across open access land could be denied,” he said.
Farmers with grazing rights on the Nine Maidens Common at Boskednan are in favour of grazing cattle on the moor and are applying to the Secretary of State in the near future for permission to put up fencing around mine shafts, and temporary electric fencing and off-road cattle grids.
For more information visit www.savepenwithmoors.com
Members of St Just Town Council, who debated the topic at a recent meeting, are inviting representatives from Natural England and Save Penwith Moors to a meeting of the council to put forward differing viewpoints.