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Last Updated: Wednesday, 22 December, 2004, 17:29 GMT
Beauty spot ban in hunt protest
The owners of Exmoor beauty spot Snowdrop Valley are turning away walkers in protest at the Government's fox hunting ban.

The Badgworthy Land Company says a study shows that banning hunting with dogs will cost Exmoor's economy 9.5m.

But some businesses say deterring visitors could hit the wrong target and cost them thousands of pounds. The Exmoor National Park Authority says it is "disappointed" and hopes the firm will have a change of heart.

I'm sorry that people may have to suffer a bit, but that's life
Tom Yandle, Badgworthy Land Company

Tom Yandle, chairman of the land company, said he was sorry local people may have to suffer financially.

He said: "We do know there is going to be 9.5m taken out the Exmoor economy... and that's a huge sum of money.

"We're terribly worried about it and I'm sorry that people may have to suffer a bit, but that's life.

"We have made a very strong point by doing this and people have taken an interest. I hope perhaps the government might reconsider its position on hunting."

About 6,000 people visit Snowdrop Valley each spring, bringing an early tourism boost to nearby shops.

Elaine Gardner, who owns a garage and shop in nearby Whidden Cross, said local people would suffer the consequences of a visitor bar.

She said: " It is an emotive subject. People have their own opinions and I can understand why some may think this is a way to make their point, however I don't think it's going to affect the people they want it to."

Roger Webber, of West Somerset District Council, said there was still some time before snowdrops came out in the valley in February.

He said: "Of course there's disappointment the company's taken this action, but I think if we've got a real grumble it's not with the Badgworthy Land Company."

Men in court over Commons protest
21 Dec 04 |  Gloucestershire

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