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Could goats be on Newquay headland's horizon?

By Cornish Guardian  |  Posted: October 16, 2012

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A HERD of goats could be used to halt the rapid spread of gorse on a protected headland in Newquay, it has been suggested.

Mervyn Mitchell, of the East Pentire Action Group, reckons the greedy creatures would do a perfect job of keeping the fast-growing shrubs in check on Pentire head.

Studies carried out in both the UK and New Zealand have shown goats, with their unfussy appetites, have no problem munching through tough, prickly gorse.

In the meantime, Mr Mitchell is calling on locals to grab their gardening gloves and secateurs to help prune the dense foliage at a one-off event on November 7.

He said: "There was an eco-study carried out in the South West by an eminent biologist so the idea is not without merit. I'm not sure what Cornwall Council will say when I ask if funds are available for a herd of goats though.

"The only problems I can foresee are containing them and it might not go down too well with dog-walkers."

Joanna Kenny, Cornwall councillor for Newquay Pentire, said some gorse was important on the headland and convincing the goats not to devour the whole lot could prove tricky.

She said: "My immediate reaction is that we do need to keep the gorse so you need to be sure the goats wouldn't eat it all."

Mr Mitchell, whose action group had two areas of Pentire registered as town greens to keep them off-limits to housing developers, called on as many people as possible to attend the gorse-trimming event.

He said the work was vital to improve the wildlife habitat for animals such as ground-nesting birds and control the gorse.

It represents the first time the group, volunteers and Cornwall Council have joined forces to improve the green, Mr Mitchell said.

"Some of the changes will not be reversible but we can start to control the spread of the gorse and keep the headland open and free for all," he said. The alternative suggestion to use grazing goats is probably not going to happen very soon so perhaps we ought to start now."

A spokeswoman for Cornwall Council said: "While grazing ponies, cattle or even goats can be an effective way of controlling invasive species, there can be logistical constraints when combining grazing with public access – especially in a popular area such as Pentire headland."

Volunteers are asked to meet at the car park by the green information board at 10am on November 7.

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