GREENHAM & CROOKHAM COMMONS COMMISSION

General Matters

Since inception many matters have been discussed, approved or rejected. A summary up to the present is:

Heathland development
Heather growth has been encouraged in many locations. Appointed contractors are cutting heather after flowering and the cuttings spread by volunteers in bare gravel areas.  Gorse spread is managed by 6.1 Ha in selected areas being cut each year. Ragwort control will be determined by a risk assessment process detailed on the Management Plan Website. Ragwort is normally controlled by pulling, cutting or chemical treatment. 

Special events

There have been applications received by various bodies, such as for orienteering, and foot races. These are judged on their merits but more often are approved subject to conditions. The British Driving Society applied on behalf of Riding for the disabled to have the occasional drive. As horse carriages might be described as a vehicle this was a difficult judgment. It was agreed that, provided sufficient notice was given to the Ranger and no more than specified number of carriages agreed are employed, approval was given.

War and peace A single special community event is planned to take place over 9th and 10th of September.This is to  celbrate 20 years of operation of the Greenham Trust and the last 100 years history of the Greenham and Crookham Coimmons. There are to be a variety of artists, international, national and local performing across the centre of the common, This is to be produced by Rosa Pruductions on behalf of the Greenham Trust. For further information go to-

greenham-common-trust.co.uk/greenham-war-and-peace      or

admin@rosaproductios.co.uk/posts/greenham-war-and-peace/

Cycle tracks

Different methods of paving for cycle tracks were investigated. Black top systems were ruled out as not in keeping with the natural beauty of the common. Soil stabilization was too costly. It was agreed to maintain the natural hoggin (gravel and clay) by grading and rolling annually.

Visitor Centre

Greenham Parish Council has, with outside additional financial support, purchased the Control Tower. It is currently structuraly renovated and is about to be internally fitted out to provide a public visitor centre with ecology and history displays.

Low flying aircraft

This is a regular problem and can cause distress to stock. Overflying cannot be prevented for aircraft over 500 metres above ground level. The M.O.D. say if a date and time and identification of any military aircraft flying below this limit is notified they would investigate. Of course at the speed of such craft this is near impossible. The current development of private drones is prohibited, but use for proper management purposes is permitted with prior notice.

Exmoor Ponies

An initial pair of ponies introduced caused distress to some riders as they were not fully feral and would crowd the riders' horses. They were removed and a herd of fully feral ponies was introduced. These have kept to themselves within their own herd. Two mares are extremely rare as their true bloodline can be traced back a very long way. Currently the number has been reduced due to over grazing. (See below)

Grazing Cattle   
Public is warned that while cattle are used to the public and quite safe, in early spring they should not approach cows with young calves. Currently all cattle are confined to the common due to cases of bovine TB. Until all tests have proven clear they must remain, this has created overgrazing, young calves have increased numbers, and therefore feeding is necessary.

Temporary fencing
There is an occasional need to erect temporary fencing for various valid reasons, to keep cattle and visitors to specific areas. This can be to corral cattle as in the 2007 foot and mouth outbreak; to protect selected areas to check species growth; to store temporary feed as at present etc.

West Berks Living Landscape

Berks. Bucks. and Oxon Wildlife Trust (BBOWT) has formed a partnership with West Berkshire Council for the Living Landscape Project. The Commission supports this project.

Volunteer groups


There are numerous volunteer groups that take part in the upkeep of the common, carrying a great variety of tasks. BBOWT spend a good deal of time with their volunteers as part of their Commons' plan and their Living Landscape tasks. The Greenham and Crookham Conservation Volunteers carry tasks on the 3rd Sunday of each month, www.gccv.org.uk

The following groups have and do spend time on the Commons
 
British Trust for Conservation volunteers (BTCV)
Berkshire Conservation Volunteers (BeC)
Volunteer Reading
Newbury Probation Service
Newbury District Ornithological Club (NOC)
Air Training Corps
Vodafone
PepsiCo 

Students from local schools including Trinity, Shaw House and Sparsholt College have on occasions also worked on the common

Tasks have been wide ranging and include Heathland conservation work, ragwort pulling and site maintenance along with wildlife surveys.

Living Landscape

This is a project agreed between West Berkshire Council, Natural England and BBOWT. Go to www.bbowt.org.uk/content.asp?did=24722 for full details about this project.

Control of Gorse

Methods of sustainable management of controlling the spread of gorse are under consideration.