Council takes aim at clay pigeon shoot with enforcement action to stop damage

A controversial clay pigeon shooting business has been forced to suspend its activities in Barnsley after the council took enforcement action following widespread public concerns about its actions in an area of ancient woodland.

Thursday, 20th September 2018, 11:44 am
Updated Thursday, 20th September 2018, 11:47 am
Stop notice: Westwood Sporting Clays has been barred from organising Sunday shoots through a stop notice

Now council officials are looking at the possibility on using unusual legislation which could eventually strip Westwood Sporting Clays of the right to use the land for shooting on 28 days each year without planning permission, because of the scale of concerns.

Westwood Sporting Clays has been operating from a section of woodland bounded by the A61 and A616 at Tankersley for some time and made a planning application to formalise the business, though that was later withdrawn, with a fresh application now made.

There have been widespread complaints about noise from the shoot, which has been held on Sundays, from those living in the area '“ including the High Green area of Sheffield as well as the village of Pilley in Barnsley '“ and Barnsley Council staff have made visits as a result.

They found a series of concerns, including the removal of trees from the woodland to allow shooting to take place.

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Barnsley Council's head of planning, Joe Jenkinson, said the recent planning application also: 'Gave us chance to scrutinise what the longer term aspirations were and liaise with people like Highways England.

'It became apparent the harm is significant to what is a '˜designated local wildlife site'.'

It is now expected the council will issue a tree replacement notice, in an attempt to restore the woodland to its original condition.

Customers using the site had been parking in an area off the A616 Stocksbridge bypass, which had previously been used as a contractor's compound for roadworks, which caused road safety concerns from Highways England.

They installed large concrete blocks to prevent access from the trunk road, but they were later moved by those organising the shoots to allow cars back in and out of the site.

Under planning rules, Westwood Sporting Clays would be able to lawfully use the site for shooting on 28 days each year, but Barnsley Council's concerns about the impact of activities there are such they are now investigating the potential of using a legal power which would allow them to revoke that, meaning any shooting there would be barred.

No decisions have yet been taken and the council must now also consider the fresh planning application from Westwood Sporting Clays.

Their Sunday shoots have been cancelled, but they have a Facebook page, where they have told customers they expect to resume activities when some planning issues have been resolved.

When the original planning application was submitted, a noise survey was conducted which showed only low noise levels at the points where readings were taken.

The results of that were contested by residents who believed the results did not reflect the reality of the situation and also from residents across the border in Sheffield, where no readings had taken place.

The council's enforcement notice said: 'The clay pigeon shooting activities are causing significant damage to the ancient woodland as unauthorised clearance of trees has taken place around the shooting stands.'

The construction of shooting stands and other activities associated with the shoots 'results in a harmful impact on the ancient woodland', the notice states