Note: 12/05/2020 – this page has been ammended. See here for more information. Ammended parts are shown in italics here also.
Today another local resident and I met with a representative from the DIO, just outside the main gates, to discuss the current situation. This is as a follow up to the Skype call I had with Local councillors and DIO several weeks ago.
It is with great sadness I report that the MoD ARE permanently blocking public access to The Range Floors. There is some debate whether the RDA includes the parts immediately behind the ranges butts or not which are also closed. These closures continue what has already been in place since the government place us in lockdown. This was my greatest concern when the gates were locked. I knew then that they would never reopen hence the need for this website. See the highlighted map here.
The RDA is the piece of the ranges that has been locked since the COVID-19 lock-down was announced by the government. The DIO deny that the closing of the ranges had anything to do with COVID-19. Yet the day the ranges were locked, signs appeared on all locked gates which clearly stated “Due to the current restrictions resulting from COVID-19 this range complex will be closed to the public until further notice”. Full picture of sign is Here. I placed a laminated sign advertising “AshRanges.com” next to each of these signs, which was removed each time I put them up. The DIO deny the “Ash Range Complex” signs were anything to do with them. I suspect these were produced and placed by Landmarc (the DIO’s contractor) and although I can’t prove that, it seems the most plausible solution.
The DIO did also state that:
- this (the lockdown of the RDA) has been the MoD/DIO plan for some considerable time.
- they are open to ideas. I suggested just closing off the range floors (the actual shooting ranges) but apparently this is too expensive.
- They are committed to improving access outside of the fence, I have however questioned how this will be possible citing the example of the pinch point between the canal and the workshops on the eastern side of the ranges, near to the Swan Pub.
- the decision has been made by top ranking DIO Officers and is awaiting ministerial approval.
- they want to improve relations with the local community!
- They have increased the MoD police force covering Ash Ranges, Pirbright, Longmoor and several other areas.
It is clear to say that the MoD/DIO are mis-interpreting the bylaws in place and denying public access. The new gates were erected in January so that they can claim the now closed part of the RDA is an enclosed area. Thus they can prevent access in line with the Bylaws despite the public having had access to this land since there was first a population here. The MoD were given the land in 1885 which is when approximately the ranges were established. In 1887 the first bylaw was put in place to protect public access when military training is not taking place.
Whilst I have tried to give the MoD/DIO the opportunity to communicate with local councillors and myself it would appear this was just a stalling tactic so that they could get ministerial approval to permanently restrict access. This is subject to confirmation along with all of the points above.
If you agree that this is a massive in-justice and you haven’t already – please do write or email Michael Gove MP now on this issue, see What can I do to help or write directly to the DIO at:
“Ash Ranges are Public Land”
I am sorry that I can’t bring you more favourable news but we are not giving up here. I am awaiting written confirmation from the DIO on this matter and the above points. We all need to stand together and fight for our rights. Please don’t give up!