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Sheep could be used to help maintain Perth and Kinross cemeteries

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Sheep could be used to help maintain Perth and Kinross cemeteries.

The idea was raised at a meeting of Perth and Kinross Council’s environment and infrastructure committee on Wednesday October 28.

It was suggested during a discussion on community greenspace in the region.

Kinross-shire independent councillor Michael Barnacle was inspired by a recent trip to North Yorkshire.

Mr Barnacle said: “When I was in North Yorkshire in September I noticed in some of the older graveyards they had sheep grazing in them to keep the grass down. I wondered whether we considered that in Perth and Kinross.”

PKC’s interim community greenspace manager Andy Clegg said: “No we have never looked at that – as far as I am aware.

“But I am aware of some of the cemeteries in the more remote sort of areas of Scotland where that is common practice.

“It maybe is something we could look at. It’s quite an interesting concept.”

Mr Clegg’s report had outlined plans to develop a network of volunteers to help look after the region’s graveyards forming “Friends of Cemeteries” groups.

In his report, he said: “Community Greenspace is working to develop a network of volunteers building on our experience with a large number of greenspace volunteers through the bloom and paths groups networks.

“A number of community groups already have a keen interest in their local graveyards. We will work with them to develop this and support them with advice, training, tools and insurance.”

Last year, the Chancellor of the diocese of Manchester ruled it is not disrespectful to allow a limited number of sheep to graze in a controlled manner on consecrated ground in a rural churchyard.

A parishioner of St Chad’s, Saddleworth, argued the move would see the animals devour flowers placed on graves, including her husband’s.

Further afield, the idea of sheep grazing in cemeteries has been used – even in one of the most densely populated areas in the world.

They have been used to tend a half-acre plot at the Basilica of St Patrick’s Old Cathedral in New York’s Manhattan district.

It would not be the first time a novel use has been found for the grazing capabilities of sheep in Perth and Kinross.

In 2016, owners of land round an ancient in Highland Perthshire appealed for a flock of sheep to keep the grass trim.

Forest Enterprise Scotland displayed far from woolly thinking when they devised the idea for the remote Na ClachanAoraidh stone circle, north of Loch Tummel.

Graeme Findlay, of the FES team in Tay District, said at the time: “As well as keeping the stone circle clear of vegetation, the grazing should help us to expand the rare and specialised plant communities that grow where limestone outcrops can be found by reducing the competition from other vegetation.”

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