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Tuesday, 9 April, 2002, 12:13 GMT 13:13 UK
Wandering cows have dung it now
Highland cattle
The cattle have been a regular feature in the village
Grazing cattle have fallen foul of the authorities in a Highland village who have begun moves to ban the creatures because of their manure.

The long-horned cattle have grazed on the village green in Plockton for hundreds of years.

However, community council chairman Charlie MacRae said the health hazard posed by cow pats had become intolerable and eight out of nine members of the council have voted for action.

He said the council was "taking legal advice on why we have 44 cows wandering the streets" and concerns have been raised about the risk of e.coli 0157 infection from cow dung.

I have nothing against cows, I like cows and I was born and brought up in Plockton but it's the mess they leave that concerns the people

Charlie MacRae, community councillor
That view is not shared by everyone, with bed and breakfast owner Alice Byrne, insisting that the cattle have become a tourist attraction.

Mr MacRae said: "It's the mess they leave in the village. People have difficulty walking without stepping in cow pats.

"I'm not so concerned about the tourists, I'm more concerned about the local people who come to me every week, saying, 'what are you going to do about the cows'.

"My friend Alice lives outwith the village and she doesn't see the mess that the cows leave down in the village."

In a discussion with Mr Macrae on BBC Radio, she countered: "Charlie, they've got to pass by my door to get to the village.

Common grazing

"They've broken into my garden heaps of times but I accept that as part of village life.

"I feel very sad that it has come to this in a lovely village like Plockton."

My MacRae said: "I have nothing against cows, I like cows and I was born and brought up in Plockton but it's the mess they leave that concerns the people, when it goes onto their carpets and onto their shoes."

However, the bed and breakfast owner said the council had little chance of changing the law on common grazing which favours the two crofters.

She suggested that instead of spending its money on legal action, the council should employ someone to herd the cows and "maybe make a bit of money selling the manure".

Mr MacRae said it was strange that laws existed to curb dog mess but nothing could be done about the cattle.

Charlie MacRae and Alice Byrne
Two sides of the dung debate on BBC Radio 4
See also:

30 Jan 02 | Scotland
Cow feed researchers smell success
31 Jan 02 | England
Llama dung reduces water pollution
23 Aug 99 | Sci/Tech
Bats thrive on drug-free cowpats
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