HL Deb 20 March 1979 vol 399 cc999-1001

2.48 p.m.


My Lords, I beg leave to ask the Question which stands in my name on the Order Paper.

The Question was as follows:

To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they are aware of the mounting annual slaughter of sheep on moorland highways in national parks and what action they propose to take to remedy the situation.

Baroness DAVID

My Lords, we are aware of the problem and it is particularly acute in the North York Moors National Park. Ways of dealing with it are currently being considered by a working group, consisting of representatives of the farming, national park and highway interests, in consultation with the Countryside Commission. In other national parks, the problem is less acute.


My Lords, I thank the noble Baroness for the courtesy of that reply. Is she aware that the Ministry of Agriculture, who took part in that working party, have shown that in 1977 on a stretch of seven and a half miles of moorland highway 516 sheep were slaughtered, and that last year one farmer on a one-mile stretch of highway lost 86 sheep and had to give up his heft?—which means, of course, extra problems for the rest. Will the noble Baroness initiate a policy of securing that these dangerous lengths of speed track across the moors are adequately fenced?

Baroness DAVID

My Lords, we are aware of the heavy losses along two particular stretches of A-class road, the A.171 and the A.169. However, as I am sure the noble Lord knows, the Countryside Commission are not in favour of fencing in national parks because they feel that fencing is unsightly and makes access more difficult for the walker. However, at a recent meeting of the North York Moors Working Group it was pointed out that the cost of fencing would be excessively high, due to the very low stocking rates, and that difficulties are caused also by the fact that there are no common management committees. However, these factors are to be considered by the Countryside Commission at their meeting on 3rd May, so they could then come up with a different decision.?

A noble Lord: My Lords, why not have a speed limit?


My Lords, will the noble Baroness take into account that the estimated cost of fencing is some £40,000 and the estimated loss in sheep is about £10,000, and therefore a return of 25 per cent. must be worth thinking about?

Baroness DAVID

My Lords, I will indeed pass that on.

Viscount INGLEBY

My Lords, is the Minister aware that the roads concerned are frequently blocked by snow—and indeed I think are so blocked at the present time—and will she consider the possibility of combining snow fencing and sheep fencing, at a considerable saving in cost?

Baroness DAVID

My Lords, I will certainly pass on that suggestion to the appropriate quarters.