Golf club fails in bid to allow rabbit shooting on town common

Beccles Golf Course has failed again in a bid to cull rabbits on Beccles Common.

Beccles Golf Course has failed again in a bid to cull rabbits on Beccles Common. - Credit: Nick Butcher/Mick Howes

A golf club has failed again in a bid to cull rabbits on a town common.

Beccles Golf Club requested permission from Beccles Fenland Charity Trust to allow shooting of rabbits on Beccles Common.

The charity was established in 2011 to manage lands granted to the town by Queen Elizabeth I in 1584, including Beccles Common, with Beccles Town Council acting as sole trustee.

At a meeting on Tuesday night, following the town council meeting, councillors rejected the request to allow shooting of rabbits on the Common.

Beccles mayor, Richard Stubbings. Picture: Nick Butcher.

Former mayor of Beccles Richard Stubbings - Credit: Nick Butcher

Richard Stubbings, councillor, said: "It is difficult because we have to balance the viability of the golf club with the common as a natural habitat.

"Natural England say shooting rabbits alone is not an effective method of culling as it tends to only target adult males, whereas a doe can birth about 20 bunnies each year.

"Shooting is only effective if used in conjunction with other methods such as snaring, traps, gassing or using ferrets.

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"We're not going to allow snaring or traps somewhere people walk their dogs, and no one wants to authorise gassing.

"This is just a slaughter of rabbits to improve a golf course which is on public land."

Graham Catchpole, councillor, added: "This is a common on which we allow people to play golf.

"The rabbits are an integral part of the biodiversity of the common.

"They have been there for hundreds of years and we have to protect them."

Brian Woodruff, however, said the rabbit population needed to be controlled.

He said: "This request is no different to what happens on North Denes in Lowestoft or on Lowestoft Golf Course.

"We may not like culling them but they need to be controlled.

"There is nothing wrong with this request because, quite frankly, the rabbits ruin the course.

"It is no different to setting traps to catch rats in your home."

Nine of the 12 councillors in attendance refused the proposal.

In 2012, Beccles Town Council abandoned a plan to gas rabbits in three areas of the common after a public backlash which led to a contractor withdrawing their service, despite the council saying the animals had caused "irreparable damage" to the land.