Grayshott man Trevor Horsley has threatened to cancel his National Trust membership over what he claims to be the trust’s “mismanagement” of Ludshott Common.
Mr Horsley stated he is “particularly annoyed” by recently cleared scrub areas where saplings, young trees, and gorse have been “strewn around and abandoned”.
And his concern is heightened by the fact Ludshott Common is located on heathland, which he pointed out is particularly susceptible to wildfires.
Government figures reveal there was a 78 per cent increase in wildfires in England and Wales in 2022, the UK’s warmest year on record, with 442 incidents reported compared to 247 in 2021.
And there have also been several devastating wildfire on heathland in Surrey and Hampshire in recent years, including in 2020 on Thursley Common, in 2021 on Frensham Common, and in 2022 at Thursley Common.
The National Trust, which enlists the help of volunteers to undertake outdoor conservation work at Ludshott Common, has said the debris will be cleared before the bird nesting season in March.
But Mr Horsley also said the cleared areas have made paths impassable and “temporary” steel fencing has been in place for over a year, blocking access to the common at an estimated hire cost of “over £10,000”.
And as a result of this ‘waste of resources’, Mr Horsley said he is considering cancelling his National Trust membership.
Mr Horsley’s comments prompted a lively debate on Facebook.
David Henry Neal, who helps graze cattle at nearby Lynchmere common, suggested cuts to staffing may be responsible for any ‘mismanagement’ and added it is the “poor guys and girls doing the graft that get the grief not the CEOs”.
Fiona Jobson and Jo Hewison also expressed their disappointment at the state of the common, with the former stating she has also not renewed her National Trust membership as a result.
But Paul Shepherd stuck up for the trust, suggesting that dog walkers with no qualifications often criticise professionals.
However, according to Neville Merritt, the delay in the clearance work at Ludshott Common is down to the discovery of asbestos on the old Superior Camp site and the need for further surveys.
He added the National Trust has been working with local councils and the Heathland Heritage group to address these issues.
But the National Trust declined to comment on the alleged presence of asbestos on the common.
A spokesman for the trust said: “Our team at Ludshott carries out routine scrub clearance between November and March annually in order to continue to conserve this special heathland landscape. We will be clearing the debris once the work is complete, prior to ground bird nesting season in March.”