Virtual fencing - Hastings Country Park

Chris Hurrell made this Freedom of Information request to Hastings Borough Council Automatic anti-spam measures are in place for this older request. Please let us know if a further response is expected or if you are having trouble responding.

The request was partially successful.

Dear Hastings Borough Council,

Virtual fencing has been in place for some time in the firehills. It is now proposed to expand the number of cattle and extend the grazing areas of the cattle.

Please provide under EIR:

1. Details of the virtual fencing to be used including costs, technical specifications.
2. Locations where the virtual fencing will be used
3. Copies of all consultations carried out by HBC with other parties.
4. Copies of all documents ((including emails and correspondence) concerning health and safety assesments for the public
5. Copies of all documents ((including emails and correspondence) concerning welfare issues for the cattle with the use of virtual fencing
6. Copies of all documents (including emails and correspondence) concerning the use of virtual fencing in the Country Park

Yours faithfully,

Chris Hurrell

Information Officer, Hastings Borough Council

1 Attachment

Thank you for your Freedom of Information request.
 
We aim to respond to requests for information within 20 working days, in
accordance with the requirements of the Freedom of Information Act. 
 
If your request is for personal information (Subject Access request) your
request will be dealt with according to the requirements of the General
Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and the timescale for response may be
extended to 40 days.
 
You can find out more information about [1]Freedom of Information as well
as all of the services the council provides on [2]our website.
 
Information Officer
Hastings Borough Council
01424 451066
[3]www.hastings.gov.uk
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

References

Visible links
1. https://www.hastings.gov.uk/my_council/f...
2. https://www.hastings.gov.uk/
3. file:///tmp/www.hastings.gov.uk

Information Officer, Hastings Borough Council

2 Attachments

Dear Mr Hurrell
 
I refer to your recent Freedom of Information request ref: FOIR-537394606.
 
Please find attached our response.
 
 
 
Yours sincerely
 
Lisa Greathead
Information Officer
Hastings Borough Council
Muriel Matters House
Breeds Place
Hastings
TN34 3UY
01424 451722
 
[1][IMG]
 
 
 

References

Visible links
1. file:///tmp/my.hastings.gov.uk

Dear Hastings Borough Council,

I am writing to request an internal review of Hastings Borough Council's handling of my FOI request 'Virtual fencing - Hastings Country Park'.

The response does not fully cover the questions asked. The response is partial and incomplete. Please review and provide full and complete answers to each of my questions.

I asked the following:

Please provide under EIR:
1. Details of the virtual fencing to be used including costs, technical specifications.
2. Locations where the virtual fencing will be used
3. Copies of all consultations carried out by HBC with other parties.
4. Copies of all documents ((including emails and correspondence) concerning health and safety assesments for the public
5. Copies of all documents ((including emails and correspondence) concerning welfare issues for the cattle with the use of virtual fencing
6. Copies of all documents (including emails and correspondence) concerning the use of virtual fencing in the Country Park

HBC responded:
This information is held
Response:
1. Technical specification can be found on the Nofence website: Nofence - World’s first virtual fence for livestock The
cost of use is £5 per col ar per month.
2. It wil be used throughout the nature reserve where grazing is the management prescription.
3. N/A - There is no requirement to consult over the use of the virtual fencing system.
4. Hastings Borough Council is currently developing a Risk Assessment in col aboration with other local authorities and
organisations who use the virtual fencing system and wil publish this prior to cattle grazing land at the Firehil s.
5. The system is widely used in the UK. More information can obtained through the Nofence website: What is Nofence?
6. The use of virtual fencing is an objective in the Hastings Country Park Nature Reserve Management Plan 2020-2030.
The management plan can be found on our website:
hastings.gov.uk/content/parks_gardens_al otments/park_management/438047/Hastings_Country_Park_Nature_Reserve_Management_Plan_2020-
2030.pdf
End of Request

I request clarification and additional information on the following questions:

2. Please tell me where grazings is the management presscription is to take place- please provide locations as requested.

3. There may not be a requirement for consultation however please confirm that no consultations have been carried out with any parties or provide the copies as requested

4. It is stated that the risk assesment document is not ready - please confirm there are no emails or any forms of correspondence (which seems unlikely given you state you are collobarating with other authorities) or provide info as required. Virtual fencing has been in place for several years in the Country Park - please provide the previous risk assesment document used or confirm that no risk assesment was carried out.

5. Please confirm there are no emails or any forms of correspondence held on welfare issues or provide the information as requested.

6. Please confirm that there are no other docs/correspondence/emails apart from the management plan or provide the information as requested.

A full history of my FOI request and all correspondence is available on the Internet at this address: https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/v...

Yours faithfully,

Chris Hurrell

Information Officer, Hastings Borough Council

1 Attachment

Thank you for your Freedom of Information request.
 
We aim to respond to requests for information within 20 working days, in
accordance with the requirements of the Freedom of Information Act. 
 
If your request is for personal information (Subject Access request) your
request will be dealt with according to the requirements of the General
Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and the timescale for response may be
extended to 40 days.
 
You can find out more information about [1]Freedom of Information as well
as all of the services the council provides on [2]our website.
 
Information Officer
Hastings Borough Council
01424 451066
[3]www.hastings.gov.uk
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

References

Visible links
1. https://www.hastings.gov.uk/my_council/f...
2. https://www.hastings.gov.uk/
3. file:///tmp/www.hastings.gov.uk

Information Officer, Hastings Borough Council

2 Attachments

Dear Mr Hurrell
 
I refer to your email dated 15 August 2023 requesting an Internal Review
following our response to a recent Freedom of Information request ref:
FOIR-537394606 Subject: Virtual fencing - Hastings Country Park.
 
I have been asked, as a senior officer of the council who has not been
involved in your case to look into how we handled your request.
 
Hastings Borough Council received the following request on 7 August 2023
 
Virtual fencing has been in place for some time in the firehills. It is
now proposed to expand the number of cattle and extend the grazing areas
of the cattle.
 
Please provide under EIR:
 
1. Details of the virtual fencing to be used including costs, technical
specifications.
2. Locations where the virtual fencing will be used
3. Copies of all consultations carried out by HBC with other parties.
4. Copies of all documents ((including emails and correspondence)
concerning health and safety assessments for the public
5. Copies of all documents ((including emails and correspondence)
concerning welfare issues for the cattle with the use of virtual fencing
6. Copies of all documents (including emails and correspondence)
concerning the use of virtual fencing in the Country Park
 
Hastings Borough Council responded on the 15 August 2023
 
1. Technical specification can be found on the Nofence website: Nofence -
World’s first virtual fence for livestock The cost of use is £5 per collar
per month.
 
2. It will be used throughout the nature reserve where grazing is the
management prescription.
 
3. N/A - There is no requirement to consult over the use of the virtual
fencing system.
 
4. Hastings Borough Council is currently developing a Risk Assessment in
collaboration with other local authorities and organisations who use the
virtual fencing system and will publish this prior to cattle grazing land
at the Firehills.
 
5. The system is widely used in the UK. More information can obtained
through the Nofence website: What is Nofence?
 
6. The use of virtual fencing is an objective in the Hastings Country Park
Nature Reserve Management Plan 2020-2030. The management plan can be found
on our website:
hastings.gov.uk/content/parks_gardens_allotments/park_management/438047/Hastings_Country_Park_Nature_Reserve_Management_Plan_2020-
2030.pdf
 
 
You requested an internal review on the 15 August 2023
 
I am writing to request an internal review of Hastings Borough Council's
handling of my FOI request 'Virtual fencing - Hastings Country Park'.
The response does not fully cover the questions asked. The response is
partial and incomplete. Please review and provide full and complete
answers to each of my questions.
I asked the following:
Please provide under EIR:
1. Details of the virtual fencing to be used including costs, technical
specifications.
2. Locations where the virtual fencing will be used 3. Copies of all
consultations carried out by HBC with other parties.
4. Copies of all documents ((including emails and correspondence)
concerning health and safety assessments for the public 5. Copies of all
documents ((including emails and correspondence) concerning welfare issues
for the cattle with the use of virtual fencing 6. Copies of all documents
(including emails and correspondence) concerning the use of virtual
fencing in the Country Park
HBC responded:
This information is held
Response:
1. Technical specification can be found on the Nofence website: Nofence -
World’s first virtual fence for livestock 
The cost of use is £5 per collar per month.
2. It will be used throughout the nature reserve where grazing is the
management prescription.
3. N/A - There is no requirement to consult over the use of the virtual
fencing system.
4. Hastings Borough Council is currently developing a Risk Assessment in
collaboration with other local authorities and organisations who use the
virtual fencing system and will publish this prior to cattle grazing land
at the Firehils.
5. The system is widely used in the UK.  More information can obtained
through the Nofence website: What is Nofence?
6. The use of virtual fencing is an objective in the Hastings Country Park
Nature Reserve Management Plan 2020-2030.
The management plan can be found on our website:
[1]https://linkprotect.cudasvc.com/url?a=ht...
otments/park_management/438047/Hastings_Country_Park_Nature_Reserve_Management_Plan_2020-2030.pdf
End of Request
I request clarification and additional information on the following
questions:
2. Please tell me where grazings is the management prescription is to take
place- please provide locations as requested.
3. There may not be a requirement for consultation  however  please
confirm that  no consultations have been carried out with any parties or
provide the copies as requested
4. It is stated that the risk assessment document is not ready - please
confirm there are no emails or any forms of correspondence (which seems
unlikely given you state you are collaborating with other authorities) or
provide info as required. Virtual fencing has been in place for several
years in the Country Park - please provide the previous risk assessment
document used or confirm that no risk assessment was carried out.
5. Please confirm there are no emails or any forms of correspondence held
on welfare issues or provide the information as requested.
6.  Please confirm that there are no other docs/correspondence/emails
apart from the management plan or provide the information as requested.
A full history of my FOI request and all correspondence is available on
the Internet at this address:
[2]https://linkprotect.cudasvc.com/url?a=ht...
 
Review
 
I have now had the opportunity to review your request and can clarify your
queries below:
 
2. Please tell me where grazing’s is the management prescription is to
take place- please provide locations as requested.
Answer: Hastings Borough Council will follow guidance outlined in its new
Countryside Stewardship agreement when it is adopted.  The exact locations
where livestock will be grazing at any given time will be dependent on
factors such as grass availability, habitat management requirements, stock
availability, weather etc.  The exact locations for grazing will not be
specified in the new agreement.   
3. There may not be a requirement for consultation however please confirm
that no consultations have been carried out with any parties or provide
the copies as requested
Answer: No consultation has taken place as no consultation is required.
4. It is stated that the risk assessment document is not ready - please
confirm there are no emails or any forms of correspondence (which seems
unlikely given you state you are collaborating with other authorities) or
provide info as required. Virtual fencing has been in place for several
years in the Country Park - please provide the previous risk assessment
document used or confirm that no risk assessment was carried out.
Answer: Please see attached email between Hastings Borough Council and
Nofence.
 
 
In respect of old risk assessments, these are not held.
Risk assessments evolve over time as our understanding grows. As they
evolve, they change and are deleted as they are superseded.
5. Please confirm there are no emails or any forms of correspondence held
on welfare issues or provide the information as requested.
Answer: There are no emails relating to welfare.  The council is using an
internationally recognised system of livestock management.  Welfare issues
should be directed to the manufacture of the virtual fence system,
Nofence.    
6.  Please confirm that there are no other docs/correspondence/emails
apart from the management plan or provide the information as requested.
Answer: Confirmed
I trust my review above clarifies your queries raised.
 
If you remain dissatisfied then you may complain to the Information
Commissioners Office (ICO) who will decide whether the Council has handled
your request correctly.
 
Information Commissioners Office
Wycliffe House
Wilmslow
Cheshire
SK9 5AF
 
Tel: 08456 30 60 60
[3]www.ico.org.uk 
 
Yours sincerely
 
Kevin Boorman
Marketing & Major Projects Manager
 
[4][IMG]
 
 
 

References

Visible links
1. https://linkprotect.cudasvc.com/url?a=ht...
2. https://linkprotect.cudasvc.com/url?a=ht...
3. http://www.ico.org.uk/
4. file:///tmp/my.hastings.gov.uk

Dear Information Officer,

Following the review there still remain questions that require clarification. I would be grateful if you could clarify.

2. Please tell me where grazing’s is the management prescription is to
take place- please provide locations as requested.
Answer: Hastings Borough Council will follow guidance outlined in its new
Countryside Stewardship agreement when it is adopted. The exact locations
where livestock will be grazing at any given time will be dependent on
factors such as grass availability, habitat management requirements, stock
availability, weather etc. The exact locations for grazing will not be
specified in the new agreement.

Clarification required. Your response remains evasive – I did not request to know where grazing will occur at “any given time” but where grazing is planned. The factors you list are short term factors affecting grazing on a short term basis. It must be possible to specify in broad terms where grazing will occur and where it won’t occur. Please specify locations where grazing will never occur in any circumstances and where grazing is likely to occur.

4. It is stated that the risk assessment document is not ready - please
confirm there are no emails or any forms of correspondence (which seems
unlikely given you state you are collaborating with other authorities) or
provide info as required. Virtual fencing has been in place for several
years in the Country Park - please provide the previous risk assessment
document used or confirm that no risk assessment was carried out.
Answer: Please see attached email between Hastings Borough Council and
Nofence.
In respect of old risk assessments, these are not held.
Risk assessments evolve over time as our understanding grows. As they
evolve, they change and are deleted as they are superseded.

Clarification required. Please confirm that the only external authority consulted on the virtual fencing was the supplier of the virtual fencing. Please confirm that you hold no information on hisdtoric risk assesments.
Please confirm that historic risk assesments were carried out. Please explain why historic risk assesments were not retained in conflict with HBC data retention policies. You claim that as the historic risk assesments “evolve over time” and are superseded. This suggests that there must be a latest version of the risk assessment in existence. Please confirm you do not hold a copy of this.

5. Please confirm there are no emails or any forms of correspondence held
on welfare issues or provide the information as requested.
Answer: There are no emails relating to welfare. The council is using an
internationally recognised system of livestock management. Welfare issues
should be directed to the manufacture of the virtual fence system,
Nofence.

Clarification required. Please confirm that no external bodies were consulted on animal welfare issues. Please confirm that there was no discussion on animal welfare issues within HBC. Please confirm that no internal HBC correspondence/emails exist on the matter.

6. Please confirm that there are no other docs/correspondence/emails
apart from the management plan or provide the information as requested.
Answer: Confirmed

Clarification required. Please confirm that HBC has not written anything concerning the use of virtual fencing. No emails, minutes, management briefing , documentation.etc.

Yours sincerely,

Chris Hurrell

Information Officer, Hastings Borough Council

1 Attachment

Thank you for your Freedom of Information request.
 
We aim to respond to requests for information within 20 working days, in
accordance with the requirements of the Freedom of Information Act. 
 
If your request is for personal information (Subject Access request) your
request will be dealt with according to the requirements of the General
Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and the timescale for response may be
extended to 40 days.
 
You can find out more information about [1]Freedom of Information as well
as all of the services the council provides on [2]our website.
 
Information Officer
Hastings Borough Council
01424 451066
[3]www.hastings.gov.uk
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

References

Visible links
1. https://www.hastings.gov.uk/my_council/f...
2. https://www.hastings.gov.uk/
3. file:///tmp/www.hastings.gov.uk

Information Officer, Hastings Borough Council

Dear Mr Hurrell

I refer to your email dated 18 September 2023, please see below our response.

2. Information not held - In broad terms grazing will occur throughout Hastings Country Park Nature Reserve where it is appropriate to do so.

4. The virtual fencing supplier was not the only external authority we discussed virtual fencing with, please see response to No5. Hastings Borough Council holds no information on historic risk assessments.

As mentioned previously Hastings Borough Council is currently developing a Risk Assessment in collaboration with other local authorities and organisations who use the virtual fencing system and will publish this prior to cattle grazing land at the Firehills.

5. The council discussed animal welfare and virtual and invisible fencing with several organisations, went on site visits and attended a seminar. However, there was no related email correspondence over the matter.

6. Please see extract from a meeting of the Hastings Country Park Nature Reserve Management Forum dated 6 November 2020.

GPS virtual fencing system

5. Officers have investigated a GPS and satellite coordinated grazing system, developed and used in Norway, known as Nofence. The system works as follows;

a. An app on a smartphone communicates with a satellite to allow virtual fence lines to be drawn on a map on the phone. These virtual fence lines can be as large or small as the user wishes and can be any shape. They can be changed and adjusted at any time allowing complete flexibility of where the virtual fence lines are in the landscape.

b. Solar charged battery collars are worn by the cattle which also relay to the satellite allowing the collars to synchronise with the virtual fencing. The collars emit a series of sounds when the cattle approach the virtual fence and if they persist in getting too close, they receive a mild shock. This mild shock is equivalent to the previous underground cable system, i.e. a 0.1 joule output in comparison to a 5-joule output from a standard electric fence. It is therefore very mild and safe.

c. The app and the computer are sent notifications to show when sounds have been emitted and when the cattle received a stimulus. There is a further notification if the cattle breach the fence. All the collars, and therefore cattle, are tracked through the phone or computer. We know where any individual cow is at any time. The system allows us to be very precise as to where we have our cattle grazing the site.

6. Officers have been testing the system by setting field boundaries and walking with the collars to test they respond to the virtual fencing. We are satisfied the system works and we now wish to proceed to live testing with our cattle. Testing will take place within existing farm fields to ensure the cattle are contained in case they breach the virtual fencing.

7. We will ensure the system is fully functioning over the coming months before we can graze the Firehills, which will not be until winter 2021. Prior to this we will ensure the boundary to the reserve is secure with physical fencing so there is no chance of cattle escaping the perimeter should the system fail for any reason or cattle breach the virtual fence. We will also undertake an extensive public information exercise. One of the benefits of the virtual system is that it will be vandal proof.

8. Longer term, the system could allow us to start removing fencing from some areas of the site to allow free roaming grazing, targeted by virtual fencing. Such a measure would allow greater biodiversity benefits and reduce the visual impact of fencing on the landscape.

9 Management Forum are asked to approve the testing of the virtual GPS grazing system for our Belted Galloway cattle in preparation for grazing the Firehills in winter 2021.

Yours sincerely

Lisa Greathead
Information Officer
Hastings Borough Council
Muriel Matters House
Breeds Place
Hastings
TN34 3UY
01424 451722

show quoted sections