The Federation opposes MOD's latest attempt to deregister Hilton, Murton, Burton and Warcop Fells

Last week Cumbria County Council sent out the applications from the Ministry of Defence to de-register Hilton, Murton, Burton and Fells.  

This is a rather long, complex, confusing and tortuous story.  In essence the MOD are saying that because all the commons rights were extinguished by a Vesting deed on 31st March 2003 the land ceased to be common land and they want it to be removed from the Register.

This goes against the undertaking they made in 2003 when they agreed that the land at Hilton, Murton and Warcop Fell would be re-instated as a common if Warcop Training Area ever ceased to be used for military training. A mechanism was put in place to facilitate this through two undertakings.

Since then the Commons Act 2006 was passed and the MOD became concerned that the new Act could interfere with their control over the common.  In the summer of 2012 they consulted on a new proposal to cancel the 2003 undertakings not to de-register the land as common land.  Instead they proposed that if Warcop Training Area became surplus,the MOD would, immediately prior to the disposal of Warcop Training Area, create a small number of limited Common Rights. You can read the consultation documents here.

Two and a half years elapsed between the consultation and MOD's announcement in November 2014 that they were  applying to Cumbria County Council to de-register the land as common land. In February 2015 we heard that they had withdrawn their application. They have finally got round to submitting their application again. It's not clear why it has taken them so long and why they have changed their mind again.
Needless to say the Federation is very much opposed to the de-registration of common land. The stock of common land is important to hill farmers and the nation as a whole. The national stock of common land should not be reduced. Regrettably we feel unable to trust an organisation that plans to cancel undertakings to be replaced with “re-structured undertakings”. To do so begs the question “What weight can be placed on the ‘re-structured undertakings?”.
What this space and we will keep you informed.

If you wish to comment on this application you must do so by 22 May 2017. You can find all the details of how to go about this here