Beach protest over Brancaster land grab claims
Land rights campaigners held a protest at Brancaster beach car park over the weekend to back local commons rights holders embroiled in a long-running disagreement.
Ten protesters from the Land is Ours campaign camped out on an area of land which is part of a dispute between the rights holders and the Royal West Norfolk Golf Club and the National Trust.
Tony Gosling, who came up from Bristol to lead the protest, said they saw it as something of a feud and an example of private landowners extending their boundaries and grabbing land and rights holders losing out.
Brancaster Marsh Common covers several thousand acres and parts of it have been registered by the golf club and the Trust.
The common rights holders and parish council dispute the land ownership claims and are also disgruntled that they are not receiving enough compensation for being unable to exercise historic rights which date back to the Enclosures Act of 1765 and would have made the parish the owner of the land.
Although they don't own any of the land, the 300-plus members of the Scolt Head and District Common Rightsholders Association (SCADRA) are entitled to historic rights over the land for activities including shooting, fishing and grazing.
They claim that if they are not able to carry out these activities they are entitled to compensation and feel they are also entitled to a portion of any income from the land.
The beach car park is one area under dispute. It is run by the golf club which, according to the rights holders, also claims to own it.
Rights holder and parish councillor, Stephen Bocking, said that although the club had registered the land it occupies it has never produced the deeds to prove ownership and all SCADRA receives in compensation is £100 for some fencing on the land.
"We just want to get people round a table to talk about it but all we get from the golf club are solicitor's letters," he said. One letter arrived in response to the protest action.
Chris Cotton, another rights holder and parish councillor, said that they welcomed the support from the Land is Ours campaigners although they had no idea they were coming to Brancaster until a few days beforehand.
Mr Gosling said they were not there to be disruptive - just to try to bring people together in what had developed into something of a feud.
He said: "It amounts to a difference of opinion between the traditional rights holders and new money which holds the legal clout," he said.
Mr Gosling said they had an opportunity to chat to those involved over the weekend and hoped their intervention might bring the parties together face to face.
The issue will be on the agenda at a parish council meeting next Tuesday.
The Land Is Ours was founded in the 1990s by George Monbiot, now a leading figure with Extinction Rebellion.
The golf club has also been contacted for comment.