Rougham: Owner of Suffolk estate defends horse ban

THE owner of one of Suffolk’s largest estates has said people riding horses on his land could cost him thousands of pounds in European subsidies.

George Agnew, owner of the Rougham Estate, spoke out after riders complained that workers on the 1,500 hectare estate had apparently warned them off riding on grass verges.

A number of signs telling people to stay off the land have also gone up in a string of villages.

One horse-rider said: “I have seen the signs in Rougham, Hessett, Felsham and Bradfield St Clare - it seems you cannot use any of the verges.

“It is worrying because it is not always safe to ride on the road - the lanes are often narrow and drivers often go too fast and are not expecting to find a horse and rider in the road.

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“There are few bridal paths in the area so I may have to be forced to take my horse in a trailer to somewhere where we can ride safely.

“I was told the estate had signed up to a stewardship scheme which means they get paid to preserve the land - and that seems to include all the verges and paths too and not even a hoof-print is allowed.”

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Mr Agnew confirmed that a stewardship scheme prevented even his own staff going on the verges.

“We have various conservation projects on the grass strips where we are planting seed mixtures that are good for bees, butterflies, birds and invertebrates.

“We are not allowed to use the strips to drive around and not allowed to let people on them.”

He added: “All of our fields are monitored by satellite. If track ways appear on these strips we could be prosecuted and we will not receive payments.”

He added: “We have massive amount of public footpaths but there these strips are for the insects alone.

“We did try and put signs up to explain what we are doing, but I’m afraid some of them must have blown down.

“I can understand people are annoyed but we are very keen on conversation.”

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