A farmer who clashed with local wildlife campaigners has got his revenge after building a 300ft long “high-security” fence in a countryside field.
Local ramblers tried to block haulage boss Alan Brunt’s attempt to buy a pretty field and meadow amid fears that development would damage the landscape.
But after seeing off the threat and buying the land for £210,000, Mr Brunt has now encased a footpath, which crosses the field, in a 6ft-high fence that stretches for 300ft.
Mr Brunt, 64, explained he had built the fence at Rodden Lake Stream Meadow in Frome, Somerset, to protect his cattle from dog attacks and from risk of disease posed by dog mess.
“The biggest problem I had after buying the land was the dogs mess all over it,” he said.
“The dog mess creates germs which get into cattle and abort the calves. I don’t want that happening.
“I need to get the land clean for six months at least before the disease goes out of the land and before I can graze cattle, so it needed to happen sooner rather than later.
“I went to the footpath people and asked if I could put a fence up and they said it was my right to, so I did.
“I did it so it is safe for both parties – people can walk through safely and dogs can walk through next to the cattle safely. I’ve seen lots of instances where cattle have chased dogs.
“It’s to avoid injury. It’s health and safety.”
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Mr Brunt added that he had no choice but to erect the fence because barbed wire would have caused too many problems to all who used the footpath.
“What other option did I have? If I’d used a barbed wire fence people would have complained that their dogs and children were getting caught and the cattle wouldn’t have liked it much either,” he added.
“Yes, it probably doesn’t look that nice at the moment, but it will dim down over time. I had to put it there for agricultural purposes, that was all I was doing.
“The dogs mess was ridiculous and it had to be controlled, otherwise it would have harmed my cattle.”
But locals have described the barrier as “horrific”. Campaigner Ruth Knaggs said: “It is the sort of fence you put around some kind of industrial site that you are worried about vandals attacking.
It is completely over the top, it is really shocking.”
Councillor Pippa Goldfinger said the new fencing would not look out of place “in a high-security prison”.
“What was once a pleasant meadow open to all is now unpleasantly restricted,” she added.
The 12ha of wildflower meadows are popular with dog walkers, joggers and schools who use the site for nature studies.
They lie between two railway lines bordered by native hedgerows made up of hundreds of trees and shrubs, including hawthorn and oak.
But one local resident dubbed Mr Brunt a “saint” for putting up the fence.
Brian Dredge, 72, said: “Since the fence has gone up we haven’t had any cars parking on the street, the volume of people have gone from our road, the dogs mess has gone, the noise at 6am has gone.”
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Farmer Alan Brunt.