05:03PM, Thursday 16 June 2016
A popular dog walking route in Windsor Forest is under threat from new plans to start a pheasant shoot.
The Crown Estate hopes to build pheasant pens which will be used for a shoot on the estate.
But the forest, in Drift Road, is a favourite spot for dog walkers and parts of it could soon be closed off to walkers.
At the moment, the forest is only accessible with the use of a key that can be purchased from the Crown Estate, which manages the land. The key costs £30 and is available to people who live within one mile of the Orchard Lea Gate.
Natural England has advised against the Crown Estate plans because of a threat to wildlife in the area.
Mathew Stubblefield, of Oakley Green Road, has had a key to the forest for the past 15 years and uses the land to walk his three dogs every day.
He is part of a group of a dozen other dog walkers concerned about the development.
The group has been sending emails to the Royal Borough, Crown Estate and Natural England voicing their disagreement with the plans. He first noticed areas being closed off with chicken wire when walking with his wife Sarah last summer.
When the 47-year-old heard of Natural England’s advice to the Crown Estate he thought the plans had been shelved.
This was until he noticed more areas of land being fenced off two weeks ago.
Matthew said: “We thought it was protected SSSI (Sites of Special Scientific Interest) land and that the plan had been rejected by Natural England.
“It is the most beautiful place to walk your dog and we have actually talked seriously about moving out of the area because we are so devastated.
“The community is strong and we all feel the same way about it.”
A spokesman for the Crown Estate ensured that the whole area would not be closed off for the entire year.
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