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Sheep and goats could be used to cut grass at historic castle to cut council costs

PUBLISHED: 16:52 11 September 2019 | UPDATED: 16:59 11 September 2019

Goats and sheep could be introduced to Castle Hill. Picture: Sonya Duncan

Goats and sheep could be introduced to Castle Hill. Picture: Sonya Duncan

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Sheep and goats could cut the grass at an historic castle’s remains as a council attempts to slash costs.

Aerial view of Thetford Castle Mound.  Picture: Mike Page.Aerial view of Thetford Castle Mound. Picture: Mike Page.

Thetford Council pays about £7,500 every time the grass at Thetford Castle, also known as Castle Hill, is cut.

This work is done twice a year but due to high, dense vegetation the council has been advised it needs to be done four times a year, pushing the cost up to £34,000 a year.

The reason for the high cost is due to health and safety issues with cutting the steep mound which requires handheld equipment to be used sitting down.

But the 847-year-old castle remains, in Castle Park, could see sheep, goats and even cattle introduced for three weeks twice a year.

The view from the top of the mound on Castle Hill. Picture: Sonya DuncanThe view from the top of the mound on Castle Hill. Picture: Sonya Duncan

Roz Barnett, a council spokesman, said: "The park is a chalk grassland which is very rare.

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"We have been told by Norfolk Wildlife Trust that the best way to preserve the area and encourage wildlife would be to re-introduce grazing on the land.

"We want to put it to the public first as it is a public park and they may not want the change but it has been positive so far."

The Norman castle mound is a designated site by Natural England and nature experts have recommended grazing as a way to encourage native plants and insects to thrive in the grassland.

Estimates put the grazing at a cost of about £42,000 but the council will apply for a National Lottery Heritage Grant to fund the work.

Grazing has already been introduced at Barnham Cross Common and the council said that it the area has seen a surprising decrease in anti-social behaviour, litter and fires.

Ms Barnett added: "We introduced animals at Barnham Cross and there was a bit of a concern for the animals because of the anti-social behaviour and motorbikes in the area.

"But we have seen a reduction of anti-social behaviour and littering. Residents have started litter picking more because they are thinking of the welfare of the animals."

An online survey has been created at www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/8T3CCCL for residents to share their thoughts or a questionnaire can be completed in Thetford Market Place.

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