Trosley Country Park has four fields on the escarpment of the North Downs. Three fields regularly have goats in them and now there are plans for goats in the fourth.
Quarry Field is a very special place. It is the easiest of the four fields for visitors to access within the park from the visitor centre despite being the furthest away. There is a fantastic 170 degree uninterrupted panoramic view extending from the Downs above Charing and round to Ide Hill. Acknowledging the importance of this place in the park, there is a pictorial display map at the top of the field.
Besides being a view point, Quarry Field is also a hill many visitors want to climb. It is reputed to be the highest and steepest publicly accessible hill to walk up in Kent. Children, including many school parties, like the challenge. Some visitors use it just for exercise, whilst others use it for training for events like the 3 Peaks Race. Many dog owners use it to exercise their dogs. Most people who climb the hill find it is quite an exertion and like to rest at the top having climbed a hill with approximately a 1 in 3 gradient with a 100 metre rise. There is a memorial bench at the top that can seat 3 people, so many visitors sit on the ground. Finally, a few visitors like to have a picnic in this field.
If goats are allowed into this field, then everyone will be affected. Currently this field has remained clean for all users. Those who use it for training will find unpleasant underfoot and children could become very dirty. In very wet weather many visitors have been known to come up the hill on hands and knees and a few have slipped over. Dog owners will have to keep their dogs on a lead and walking up or down with a large dog on a lead could be dangerous. Exercising dogs on the hill will be banned for weeks on end. Also, some dogs are known to either roll in goat droppings or eat them, so these owners and their dogs will be permanently excluded.
Why are goats being kept in the fields? The aim is to return the 4 hillside fields to grassland as part of the Old Chalk New Downs project after over 40 years of neglect (as mentioned in the park’s management policy document) and to encourage Chalk Blue butterflies. The idea is to use goats to reduce the number of trees and shrubs in the fields. There is no objection to keeping goats in the three other fields. There is no objection to returning Quarry Field to grassland. To have goats in Quarry Field is in direct conflict with visitors and how they use the park. There is another way to turn the field to grassland, but it involves manpower. After initial clearance using chainsaws and brush cutters by park staff, the Wednesday volunteers can keep any regrowth down using shears and secateurs. This would need half a dozen volunteers to spend three to four hours every couple of months. The cost to the park’s budget would be minimal, possibly even less than using goats when fencing and vet costs are included.
Sign the petition if you agree that Quarry Field should remain
exclusively for the use of park visitors.
This ePetition ran from 18/12/2018 to 18/03/2019 and has now finished.
252 people signed this ePetition.