Brian May Animal Charity plans to turn Exmoor Shooting Estate into Nature Reserve


A more balanced report….

19 May 2014 by Tina Rowe

Brian May on stage
Brian May’s Save Me animal charity plans to buy the $7 million Chargot shooting estate on Exmoor


Former Queen guitarist and anti-badger cull campaigner Brian May’s wildlife conservation charity Save Me is eyeing up a £7 million West Country shooting estate, for sale in the heart of badger cull territory.

Turning the 665-acre Chargot estate in Exmoor National Park into a nature reserve could dent plans by the Department for the Environment Food and Rural Affairs to continue the badger cull in West Somerset, but it is not the main reason for Save Me’s interest. Anne Brummer, chief executive of Save Me said yesterday: “The location is a bit of a bonus for us, but the fact that it is in the cull area would not be the deciding factor. Our land agent is doing a report on it and we will be looking at everything about the estate and whether we can make it a long-term on-going conservation project.

“We are frequently looking at parcels of land and this one came up and our land agent contacted us and I said yes definitely look at it and give us a report. We are also looking to buy property in Devon.”

Save Me now has five land holdings country wide, including two separate reserves near Tolpuddle and near Bere Regis in Dorset, and another near Manchester.

The land, described as the ‘jewel in the crown’ of Somerset shooting estates, includes deep-sided valleys, a shooting lodge, two cottages, a farmhouse and three keepers’ flats, and is said to employ around 100 people. It had been removed from the open market by the time Save Me expressed interest but it is understood it could be available through a private deal.

Anne Brummer explained that at this stage only Save Me officials and staff have been involved in considering Chargot. Once a report on its suitability as a reserve has been compiled it will be sent to Mr [Dr] May for consideration.

Some fear that closing down the shooting estate would close down an important “social club” for people who work in the sparsely-populated area. Anne Brummer said: “We don’t want to be causing problems with farmers.”

Mr [Dr] May, who is descended from Dorset farming stock, won thanks from villagers around Bere Regis last year when he bought 155 acres of farmland close to Shitterton. Locals feared it would be used for housing. He called a public meeting to explain his proposals and held an open day when locals could help plant some of the thousands of trees and shrubs he planned to plant in the year ending this September. At the time he said: “It will be a model for the way the countryside could be managed, a way for us all to live in harmony with what we have been blessed with.”