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Landfill Communities Fund for the benefit of Gloucestershire

Could world's first wild boar grid help protect Forest playing fields?,

Press Coverage - 08/02/2017

Could world's first wild boar grid help protect Forest playing fields?

A Forest village has installed what is believed to be the first wild boar grid in the world to protect playing fields being continually wrecked by the wild pigs which roam the village at night.

The scattered village of Yorkley is right in the heart of the Forest and one of the hotspots for the boar which have started entering built up areas across the Dean.

And despite spending thousands of pounds on anti-pig fencing, villagers were still unable to stop the boar grubbing up the local playing fields with their noses as they look for food under the surface of the grass.

The local cricket team, which had carried on through two world wars, was forced to miss a season because of boar damage to the pitch and the local football team have also had to cancel games.

It is a problem which plagues communities across the Forest of Dean and only last weekend the boar caused thousands of pounds worth of damage to the football ground at Steam Mills in Cinderford for the second time.

The Forestry Commission say it is up to landowners to protect their property and recommend toughened fences up to five foot high to keep out the boar which can jump over walls of normal height.

But this doesn't always work, with many people being blamed for forgetting to close the gates behind them for letting the boar in.

Now Gloucestershire Environmental Trust (GET) has helped villagers install what is believed to be the world's first anti-boar grid to stop the animals getting into the grounds around the £560,000 community centre at Yorkley.

The grid, installed by local company Lydney Surfacing, is effectively a cattle grid the boar cannot cross. It also has hedgehog escape route for any prickly creatures that fall under the bars.

Community centre chairperson Sharon Freeman said: "In November 2014 the woodland perimeter fencing was replaced with 'boar-proof' fencing

"This, of course was very much appreciated by the committee of the community centre but it was very quickly realised that the wild boar, who had taken to roaming into the village even before dark, were accessing the grounds through the main vehicular access gate and again damaged the pitch so badly that it was unplayable and games had to be cancelled.

"These incidents were very worrying and disheartening, especially after all of the hard work by volunteers which went into the provision and running of a wonderful community facility and by the footballers whose games had to be cancelled.

"The committee decided to apply to GET for a wild boar grid and were successful awarded £5000. Now that the whole of the perimeter of the recreation ground is securely fenced and gated."

Now other villages are following the experiment with interest to see if spending thousands of pounds on fences, gates and grids can stop the boar getting in and wrecking community sports facilities.

This week members of the football club at Steam Mills have posted comments on social media explaining how upsetting it is when it happens and how they cannot keep paying out to put the damage right.

Shaun Cripwell told residents the club had already spent thousands getting the field up to standard but added: "Our pitch is well and truly ruined".

Councillor Mark Turner suggested a team of volunteers could right the damage but critics say it's impossible to keep on top of it.

West Dean Parish Council, which helped pay for the fences at Yorkley, believe more needs to be done to manage the boar and have called a public meeting at the West Dean Centre. Bream at 7pm on Thursday February 16.

Parish clerk Dave Kent said the management strategy needs to be reviewed because the boar are becoming increasingly intrusive in local towns and villages and the council wants to set up a group to work with bodies such as Defra, the district council and the Forestry Commission to find a solution that suits both supports and critics of the boar.

"This is an issue on which people may have different views, but some form of management is necessary," he said "The group will pursue options which will address the issue and take into account pro-and anti boar opinion."