PLANS to graze cattle on Petersfield Heath have been agreed in principle.

The 69-acres of heathland and its 22-acre pond is overseen by Petersfield Town Council.

Last Thursday members of the council’s grounds committee agreed that in principle a small number of cattle should be allowed to graze on the beauty spot.

They would also help to fertilise the rare heathland. Members heard that the National Trust could provide three native and local breeds of cattle, and all the fencing, needed, including electric fencing.

The committee heard that it was likely that some heath visitors could be nervous of the cattle, so it would be important to publicise the move and inform the public about cattle behaviour.

The move would help restore and preserve the heath’s rare habitats.

Heathland makes up one per cent of all the land in the South Downs National Park.

Grazing is recognised as a sustainable way to care for the habitats needed by species such as nightjars, sand lizards and adders.

Members agreed to set up a working party to look into the proposal in more detail and agree a way forward before reporting back to the January meeting of the committee.