Trapped Deer – Freed by RSPCA!

We are pleased to be able to report that thanks to the efforts of the RSPCA and the Soflag supporter who has been their main point of contact, the deer have been saved.

This morning, Tuesday 24th February, the RSPCA Inspector Tony Woodley decided he would not take “no” for an answer from Thakeham Homes and pressed them again to take action. They refused, but eventually gave permission for the Inspector to enter the fields himself and remove some wooden fencing on the southern boundary of their land. Thakeham were not prepared to carry out this work themselves.

Borrowing a crowbar from a local householder who had been looking out for the deer, the Inspector was able to prise off the crossbars of the fence. After an hour of very careful coaxing, the deer were herded towards the gap and made their escape. Mr Woodley then replaced the crossbars to prevent the deer from re-entering the fields.

We would like to say a big thank you to the RSPCA Inspectors Tony Woodley and Julie Parsons who responded to the situation and did not give up in the face of obstruction from Thakeham Homes.

Soflag formed to protect the countryside south of Folders Lane. We feel saddened that in the short time since part of it has been bought by the developer Thakeham Homes we have witnessed both the destruction of the hedgerows and the distress of the two remaining deer.

Trapped Deer in the fields owned by Thakeham Homes

We are sorry to report that Thakeham Homes are refusing to take responsibility for the deer trapped in the fields they own south of Folders Lane.

Thakeham Homes put new fencing, topped with barbed wire, around the perimeter of their land shortly after destroying the hedgerows and chopping down trees. This fencing divided the open countryside in which deer have been living for many years.

A group of at least 3 deer had been seen many times in what are now Thakeham’s fields during the months and years before Thakeham Homes purchased the land, in fact the banner at the top of the Soflag Facebook page is a photograph of these deer taken in 2013.

After the fencing was erected 2 deer were immediately seen to be stuck inside. They have spent the past few weeks repeatedly running up and down against the fence along the southern boundary, and until a few days ago a third deer was to be seen on the other side running alongside them but separated by the barbed wire.

The RSPCA have done everything they can to get Thakeham to help these deer. They want a temporary gap to be made in the southern boundary to allow them to get out safely. Thakeham’s position is that the deer must have jumped over the fence into the field after it was erected but Soflag do not accept this. A householder who can see into the field has seen one of the deer attempting to jump over the fence to get out but it is not capable of doing so.

The RSPCA have been great, but now there is nothing more within their legal powers that they can do. Thakeham are refusing to take action themselves, or to permit the RSPCA into the fields to create a gap in the fence.

The third deer has not been seen for a few days, and sadly the RSPCA Inspector has confirmed that a deer has been killed on Keymer Road.

Here at Soflag we feel frustrated that there is nothing we can do either. We formed to protect the countryside south of Folders Lane, and now part of it has been bought by the developer Thakeham Homes and the result is the destruction of the hedgerows and the continuing distress of the two remaining deer.

Thakeham Homes have ownership of 3 fields south of Folders Lane and Greenacres, Keymer Road

We have confirmed that 3 fields directly south of Folders Lane, between Keymer Road and Wintons are owned as of 16 December by Thakeham Homes, despite the land agent informing us the land was to be used purely for agricultural use. No planning application has been received and we were informed before Christmas that the land would be used for cattle or sheep. However, we have watched as the forestry company under Thakeham’s instruction  have systematically removed all hedgerow around the 3 fields, felled treesand fenced the perimeter.

The MSDC Tree Officer visited the site late last week and put an immediate stop order on the site, awaiting the enforcement officer’s visit to determine the correct course of action over the removal of the vegetation.

Thakeham also have ownership of Greenacres, Keymer Road as of 16 December, giving access from Keymer Road into those 3 fields.

Keep an eye on our website, Facebook page and Twitter (see the Contact Us page) for up to date information as we receive it.