We have received some questions about the Council's plan to introduce grazing cattle in Sunbury Park and hope that the following information is helpful.
Q1: Why is this being done?
Q2: How many cows will there be?
Q3: What are the benefits?
Q4: Where will the cows be?
Q5: How will the area be secured?
Q6: What about worried dog walkers?
Q7: Will there be any restrictions on access?
Q8: What information has been given about these plans?
Q9: Does the Council have longer term plans for Sunbury Park?
Q10: Will the cows change the Green Belt status?
Grazing cows in Sunbury Park was first suggested by the Council to the Friends of Sunbury Park as a way of increasing biodiversity in the Park and helping to improve the grass sward which was becoming increasingly dominated by less desirable species.
There will be approximately 11 Aberdeen Angus cows in the Park from April to September.
Grazing cattle help manage invasive dominate species and in turn encourage more desirable flora such as wildflowers and target grass types. Thanks to the way in which cattle graze, a varied sward will be created which in conjunction with the cattle's manure will provide an ideal habitat for invertebrates. An enhanced variety of insects will result in improved feeding opportunities for birds and mammals.
The cows will only graze in the main part of the Park and not in the area above the Ha-ha by the Walled Garden or in Orchard Meadow.
The area is appropriately fenced with DDA compliant kissing gates to allow access. A larger kissing gate has been installed at the Green Street car park to allow access for push buggies and mobility scooters.
We appreciate the concerns expressed by dog walkers but the cows are a docile breed and familiar with grazing in sites shared by dog walkers. Like all other parks in the Borough we would ask for dogs to be kept under control and for some dogs this may require the use of a lead. It is the responsibility of the owner to ensure the dog is under control.
We do have other grazing livestock around the Borough, including Dumsey Meadow, and there have been no disputes with dog walkers. Cattle are grazed in other parts of Surrey where dog walking takes place with no detrimental effect on either livestock or dogs.
Access rights are the same for all users and, as with all our parks, we anticipate that dog owners will keep their dogs under control so as not to disturb other users whether they be children, other dog walkers or cattle. So the scheme will not prevent residents from walking their dogs.
Following the 2015 grazing trial and subsequent survey, the majority of residents who voted were in favour of the cows returning. Leading up to the 2016 season this result was advertised in the Council's Bulletin magazine and enews and on its website. Onsite signage is present at all the Park's entry points and notice boards. The precise arrival date will be available on our twitter page closer to the time.
The Park is an important area of open space which is highly valued by the local community. The chief reasons for grazing the park is to undertake a more sustainable approach to its management and improve the ecology of the Park. By grazing the Park we hope to encourage a greater floral abundance and diversity, in turn providing a more beneficial environment for faunal species.
We are also planning to introduce small zones of wildflowers in the central area of the Park which will be fenced until they are well established. It is hoped that over time the wildflower beds will naturally disperse seeds throughout the Park.
No, using cows as part of the management of the open space will not alter the Park's Green Belt status.