Public Enquiry to hear MOD's attempt to deregister Hilton, Murton, Burton and Warcop Fells

Cumbria County Council as Commons Registration Authority has decided to hold a Public Inquiry to consider the applications made by The Secretary of State for Defence to deregister Hilton, Murton, Burton and Warcop commons. They have appointed Alan Evans from Kings Chambers, Leeds to conduct the Inquiry. It will open at Kendal County Hall, Busher Walk, Kendal LA9 4RQ at 10 am on 13th September 2018. The Inquiry is due to close on 14th September 2018. Anyone can attend the Inquiry.

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 then ceased to be common land and they want it to be removed from the Register. This goes against the undertaking they made in 2001 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.

Needless to say the Federation are very much opposed to the deregistration of common land. The stock of common land is important to hill farmers and the nation as a whole. It should not be reduced. We also believe that this whole exercise is a waste of public money.  The MoD can secure its training needs without deregistering the common land at Warcop Training Area.

The Inspector says that the main issues in this case centre on questions of law and anybody who wants to address the inquiry should submit a skeleton argument in advance. This is a bit daunting for us and we aren’t experts in the law.  We have sent in a skeleton argument supporting the objections made by the Open Spaces Society who are employing a barrister, the Foundation for Commons Land and the Friends of the Lake District. We also ask the Inspector to consider the wider argument that common land is a precious resource for the benefit of all and should not be reduced. We plan to attend the inquiry but do not expect to speak at it. If other commoners are able to attend it would be good as it shows that we care about common land.

If you wish to read our skeleton argument you can download it here.