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Grids to make sheep flourish; FARM & COUNTRY.

A FLINTSHIRE beauty spot is to be ringed by six new cattle grids to encourage more sheep to graze.

The pounds 200,000 scheme for Halkyn Mountain is being paid for by a levy on rocks taken from its three quarries.

More sheep are needed to graze 2,000 acres of grassy common land and tackle the growing invasion of bracken and brambles.

Sheep have grazed the mountain for centuries and their presence at Halkyn is said to pre-date the arrival of the Romans, who mined lead from the area for their plumbing.

The project was developed by Halkyn Graziers Association with extra funds provided by Flintshire County Council and the Cemex and Tarmac quarries. Flintshire countryside officer John Richards said sheep played an essential role in preserving the site's wild beauty.

He said: "We hope the cattle grids will encourage the graziers because there are fewer of them now than ever before."

The cattle grids will act as "gateways" to the mountain and so better define an area which is both a Site of Special Scientific Interest and a Special Area of Conservation.

Rural enterprise agency Cadwyn Clwyd, which has overseen the project, fears the common's fragile eco-system is also under threat from moderns dangers such as fly-tipping and off-road motorbiking.

Flintshire County Council has developed a long-term strategic plan for the area to protect its landscape as quarrying comes to an end.

A heritage leaflet and DVD called "The Story of Halkyn Mountain" has been produced along with a school education pack.

In the next phase a full-time countryside ranger is to be employed on the common with funding from the Countryside Council for Wales and local community councils.

Coun Colin Legg said: "Halkyn Mountain is a unique area where people live and work - the common merits special care and consideration."

In January this year, sheep were blamed for hampering attempts to defrost icy roads on the mountain because they were eating a new type of sugar-based grit. Flocks of sheep were spotted licking the roads and refusing to move for traffic.
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Publication:Daily Post (Liverpool, England)
Date:Apr 12, 2007
Words:344
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