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Battle lines drawn in Ilminster path row
A BITTER row over an Ilminster footpath intensified this week as official plans were published to make it a public right of way.
Somerset County Council has issued an order under Section 53(2) of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 to add the path which adjoins Winterhay Lane and Home Farm Way in Green Lane – known locally as Bumpy Lane – to the town’s map.
But farmers and residents at the northern end of the lane have vowed to take their fight against this all the way.
The order states that objections, detailing specific reasons, must be sent in writing to the council before March 12.
If any objections are made, they will be sent with the order to the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs – Owen Paterson – to be considered.
Campaigners who live at the northern end of the lane say they will be lodging an objection.
Speaking on behalf of them, John Waldie said: “It’s working farm land with animals and tractors going up and down, which doesn’t make it an appropriate footpath.
“But what is equally important is that there is an existing footpath which reaches the same destination – it is just a bit longer.
“We believe that the county council have made a wrong decision, based on inaccurate reports and dubious evidence.
“We are confident that when the matter is submitted to the Secretary of State, as it inevitably will be, that the county council’s order will be overturned and true justice will prevail.”
The issue has been the subject of an ongoing battle between those farmers and residents, and other people in the area who believe the footpath should be made an official right of way.
The path had been used unchallenged for 50 years before ‘private’ signs were placed at two entrances in August 2012.
Hundreds of people signed a petition calling for Bumpy Lane to be adopted as a public footpath since the disagreement broke out and the Winterhay Action Group was quickly formed by regular path users.
Gemma Watkins, of the group, said: “We are very pleased that matters are progressing as they should.”
Objections can be sent to Rights of Way Definitive Map Team, Environment Department, Somerset County Council, County Hall, Taunton, TA1 4DY, Ref: RW/252M/339L
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