Herald Arranges Exclusive Greys Court Meeting to Discuss Barbed Wire

The resolution for the National Trust to ban barbed wire at their properties proposed by local Henley residents after three deer were found caught on barbed wire at Greys Court was voted against by members at the Trust’s AGM on 20 October.

The voting saw 23,000 votes against to 12,554 in favour.  The votes against saw 4,270 discretionary (to leave the proxy (either a named individual or the chairman of the meeting) to vote on their behalf to vote as he/she thinks fit) votes and 2,506 abstentions.

Last week the Herald were invited with local residents David Sarson (who proposed the resolution) and Judy Dinsdale who found two of the deer to a meeting with Rob Hayes the General Manager at Greys Court and Adam Ford, Garden and Outdoors Manager.

Rob Hayes said, “We welcomed the AGM resolution and it has got the discussion going.  We wanted to meet with David and Judy when the incidents happened in March.  We love wildlife and we’re passionate about working with local people.  It’s a fantastic debate and a great way of focusing us to look at other ways of doing it.  This is the start of the conversation.  We’ve already started to remove some barbed wire (around 1,500m) and replaced it with other types of fencing.  Going forward when we need to replace fencing we will be assessing which types we could use in different areas, although barbed wire fencing will still be needed where our tenant farmer grazes his cattle to keep them in.  We will also look at where we have put double strands of barbed wire could we replace this with a single stranded wire above or below and look at the width between the wires too.”

Two new Rangers have been appointed to work on the Greys Court estate with Adam who will be looking at where the deer herd are roaming through the estate and to look at where deer leaps (deer friendly fencing) could be installed.  They also have a plan to do more checking of the fences too to make sure that any deer aren’t trapped.  Adam added, “The deer population has increased and we think we’ve identified where most of them going through the estate.  We do think that some of the incidents may have been caused by a dog freaking out the deer.  We need to educate dog owners who walk through the estate.”

David Sarson said, “This is a good start. We would like to encourage the National Trust to do research into alternative livestock fences which do not include barbed wire, whilst we try and engage with DEFRA (Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs) to broaden the qualification of fencing grants to include suitable fencing without barbed wire.”

Judy added, “In Norway, a barbed wire ban became law on animal welfare  in 2010 which bans the use in fences to regulate animal movements.  It is enforced that fences consisting of only barbed wire is illegal. Fences with barbed wire on top are OK until they need maintenance, then the barbed wire must be removed.”

This is not the first time that Rob believes that the Trust has not communicated their plans in the best way which have included the fencing off of the Bluebell Wood and closing the car park in Broad Plat Lane.  Rob said, “We’ve learnt a lesson that we need to communicate better with the local community on what we’re doing and hope that we can do this now through the Herald.  We’ve got lots of great plans and we’re looking for local volunteers to help with these.”

The fencing off of the Bluebell Wood was to stop the erosion of the plants from both the nearby cattle who were constantly getting into the area and the increased visitor footfall.  The car park was blocked off last year after the Trust were worried about the cars damaging the shallow roots of the Beech trees. Planning permission has been sought by the Trust to put a new car park on Rocky Lane.

If you would like to become a volunteer, please email Rob at greyscourt@nationaltrust.org.uk