19 June 1998
Access safety order to force
beef man to sell up?
By Jonathan Riley
STAFFORDSHIRE beef farmer Paul Boston may be forced to sell up, after the Health and Safety Executive ordered him to remove cows from his fields with public access.
Mr Boston, who has 200 suckler cows with young calves at foot, said the HSE ordered him to erect fencing along footpaths at his Hawcroft Grange Farm, Longdon, after walkers with dogs were injured by the cows.
“The injuries occurred after dogs spooked the herd. The cows were concerned and defended their calves,” said Mr Boston.
But fencing both sides of the 4km of footpaths which cross his land would mean financial ruin and he faces having to sell up. “It is so frustrating. If owners acted responsibly and kept their dogs on a short lead, there would be no problem.
“The problem is as bad when owners exercise their dogs on extending leads which are up to 30ft long. The dogs are still able to worry the cows, which can cause pregnant cows to abort,” he said.
Cattle health is also threatened by dog muck, while crops of silage have been ruined by dogs mess, which carries worms that can infect the cattles livers and cause abortions.
“I contacted the council and asked them, if these paths were public, why didnt the council take action to stop dogs fouling them? But they told me it was not a council issue.
“I have worked all my life and established a good herd of Charolais, Limousin and Simmental sucklers. I do the job properly with a great deal of care. But there seem to be no laws which back me, and I am seriously thinking of selling up and moving to Ireland,” he said.
But Kent-based solicitor Matthew Knight insisted that landowners do have some recourse. “Rights of way are a set route between two points. Any diversion taken off the path is a trespass. So anyone who does not keep their dog to heel and uses the path to exercise their dog is committing a trespass.”
For this and other stories, see Farmers Weekly, 19-25 June, 1998