Paths under threat as funding is pulled

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COUNTRYSIDE lovers are at risk of losing walking and riding routes because government grants to keep them open are coming to an end.

Fifteen permissive routes around Bourne and one at Deeping St Nicholas are among the 200 in the county listed as losing funding from the end of the month.

Coun Ray Wootten, chairman of the South Lincolnshire and Rutland Local Access Forum which has been urging parish councils to work with farmers to keep routes open, said: “The Higher Level Stewardship footpaths and bridleways have become established as an important part of the countryside access network.

“Some form vital links in the public rights of way network.”

One farm in Deeping St Nicholas included on the ‘at risk’ list is run by Nicholas Watts.

Mr Watts, of Vine House Farm, has encouraged members of the public to visit his land under the Countryside Stewardship Scheme for the past nine years.

He has one year of his agreement to run and said: “Losing funding would make quite a difference to me.

“We have one access to the bird hide on the scheme and the Government gives me £100 each time I let the public use it.

“I get about 15 groups a year and give up my time to take them around. But I may have to consider charging in the future.”

Tenant farmer Robert Haddow, of Auster Lodge Livery Yard in Bourne, also has one year to run on his stewardship scheme.

Mr Haddow said: “When we applied for the scheme we made a route around the farm to make more of the wildlife features accessible.

“When this scheme runs out we were hoping to do more, but we may have to reconsider now.”