Plans for new dog walking field near Ripon refused by councillors over sheep concerns

Councillors have voted to refuse plans for a new dog walking field near Ripon after agreeing that the nearby sheep could be disturbed.
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Skipton and Ripon’s planning committee met on Wednesday (March 6) at Belle Vue Square in Skipton to consider plans for a secure place for up to 12 dogs to exercise off-lead.

The site is located south of Mickley, which is a village five miles from Ripon.

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In January, the plans were deferred at the last minute following a last-minute objection from the National Sheep Association.

The plans for a dog walking field near Ripon have been refused over concerns nearby sheep could be disturbedThe plans for a dog walking field near Ripon have been refused over concerns nearby sheep could be disturbed
The plans for a dog walking field near Ripon have been refused over concerns nearby sheep could be disturbed

The field is bordered by farmland currently occupied by grazing sheep and breeding ewes, which led a council officer to recommend the plans for refusal due to noise from the dogs potentially worrying the sheep.

The public gallery was full of villagers who were against the plans.

Adrian Rose spoke on behalf of the applicant and said he had submitted freedom of information requests that revealed there had not been any noise complaints in more than 50 dog exercise areas.

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He said the applicant regularly walks dogs through the village alongside the sheep “who completely ignore them”.

However, former farmer Councillor Robert Heseltine (Conservative and Independent – Skipton East and South) spoke against the plans and referred to recently published figures that found wandering dogs cost farmers £2.4 million a year due to sheep being killed or maimed.

He added: “The number of dead lambs I pulled out of sheep after being chased by dogs gives me nightmares.

"We cannot and should not give consent to this application or ignore the risk to livestock by this scheme.”

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The sheep would have been shielded from any dogs by a 2.2 metre tall fence as well as trees.

But Councillor Andy Brown (Green Party – Aire Valley) remained unconvinced.

He said: “I can see how you mitigate the sight of dogs, but I can’t see how you mitigate the smell or noise.”

Dog-owning councillor Barbara Brodigan (Liberal Democrat – Ripon Ure Bank and Spa) added: “Boy, can you hear my Yorkshire Terrier from 300 yards away when the postman comes.

"If there’s a group of 6 to 12 dogs together off lead running around they will bark and you’ll hear them in a tranquil place.”

The plans were refused unanimously.

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