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Football pitch a threat to endangered breed

The only Suffolk horse breeder in Essex is fighting plans to build floodlit football pitches next to her farm, claiming that the plans could affect the future of the rare breed.

Sue Wager has been breeding Suffolks at Selcote Hall in Heybridge for 30 years.

But now a local football club, Heybridge Swifts, has sold its site to developers, Bloor Homes, which plans to build 105 houses on the site. However, to do this the football pitches need to be moved.

The Suffolk Horse is on the Rare Breeds Survival Trust’s critically endangered category one list. There are only 400 horses registered, and about 25 foals born every year.

Ms Wager provides stud and foaling services to Suffolk horse owners, and is one of a handful of breeders with the facilities to take in and stand stallions for members.

“If I have to give up it will have drastic consequences for the future of the breed,” she told H&H.

A 12-acre field owned by a local farmer is believed to have been bought by the developers, and plans are being drawn up to build three football pitches, including one with floodlights and a function room, on the new site next to Selcote Hall.

Plans were presented to the residents in Heybridge at a public consultation last month (24 March).

“We will be submitting a planning application to the local authority after the public exhibition and will be taking on board local residents’ comments prior to submitting the application,” said Oliver Hurlock of Bloor Homes.

Villagers are campaigning to stop the move, arguing that it will increase traffic and noise.

“We don’t consider a football pitch is part of the countryside. It will have a major knock-on effect on the village,” said resident Shelley Macdonald.

Ms Wager, who is a council member of the Suffolk Horse Society, said she could be forced to move if the football club borders her land.

“A mare needs peace and quiet to foal, not hundreds of football supporters next door,” she told H&H.

Ref: Horse & Hound; 2 April 2015

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