Friends of Quantock are delighted to announce that they are taking over nearly 400 acres of the Quantock Hills from Somerset County Council.
Last year the Council declared the land surplus deciding instead to concentrate its limited resources on protecting essential frontline services. Following this, there was much anxiety about the future of the hills. Now charity Friends of Quantock will hold the areas known as Over Stowey Custom Common and Thorncombe Hill as custodians in perpetuity, on behalf of the people of Somerset and the many visitors from further afield.
This well-loved heathland is enjoyed by many for its bracing fresh air and magnificent views from Exmoor to the Mendips and across the Bristol Channel to the mountains of Wales. It will continue now to have free public access and people will still be able to range across the open landscape, as they have done for hundreds of years without restriction or concern, enjoying the peace and birdsong.
David Huxtable, SCC Cabinet Member for Resources, said: "We are delighted to transfer these lands to the Friends of the Quantock who satisfy all our very high criteria for management and stewardship of the land. It was always our intention to transfer our ownership to those who can invest their time and money, enabling us to concentrate our limited resources on protecting essential frontline services. We know these lands will be in good hands now and for future generations to enjoy as they always have."
The takeover has only been possible because of Friends of Quantock's long involvement with the Hills, their willingness to take responsibility for managing the sites and the support of their members: private individuals and local companies. They were so concerned for the beauty and welfare of the Quantocks that they were determined to find a way to keep them safe for posterity.
Alan Hughes, Chairman-elect of the charity said, "We are delighted to be able to take on the challenge of managing the land; but it will be a challenge as it will cost up to £5,000 a year to maintain it and we will need the support of more members. Work will be needed to its paths, car parks and woodland, as well as to protect its rare plants, birds and ancient monuments. This is a wonderful opportunity to involve local people in their heritage. We are grateful to Somerset County Council for making this takeover possible."
Friends of Quantock look forward to carry on working closely with the AONB service, local landowners, Quantock Commoners (who have grazed their sheep and ponies there since Saxon times) and others to protect this very special heathland for both visitors and wildlife.
Alan went on, "If you care about your environment and would like to help, please join us as an individual or business member and you will be very welcome at our local events, talks and walks."
Georgie Grant - February 2013-->