South Tyneside countryside team insist that ponies are the best option to manage Cleadon hills. The land in question was designated as a local nature reserve in 1997. Cleadon Hills is a well managed conservation area with an abundance of fauna and flora on its magnesian limestone grassland. Introducing Exmoor ponies here will leave them vunerable to attacks from yobs. Already a problem in this remote but accessible area. A pony was even beheaded in Durham two years ago.
It has also been noted that the wording in the councils plans is to allow grazing animals. This could open the door to other livestock in the future.
Dog walkers will no longer be able to let their dogs run free. This is an extremely popular area, safe to let dogs run free to mix and play. The land has long been used for recreation, and as more and more green spaces vanish, the space holds special value for those who use it.
The local farmer has maintained grass-cutting successfully for many years, and the flowers flourish. He takes the hay cut in return which he uses for his own animals.
Ponies will need a water supply created, large areas of fencing upgraded, stone walls fixed, gates, holding pens and then of course vets fees and policing. The list goes on. This cannot possibly be cheaper than cutting the grass.
Damage will be caused to areas around gates as we have seen in many places with increasing rain recently. Excessive mud caused by hooves will stop people accessing the site.
There is a potential danger to people walking in the area. We want to let our children run free with their pets. Horses are unpredictable and even dogs on leads can frighten them, let alone motor bikes, airguns, massive kites and sledges. Who will pay the insurance needed when someone is injured?
Why change something that already works well and put ponies at risk?