The land, which lies within the North Pennines area of outstanding natural beauty, is often upheld as an idyllic vision of rural British country life. However, the clatter of the live fire exercises has long disturbed locals.There have even been reports of villagers finding old tank shells whilst grazing their sheep in what has become known as the “ricochet area.”In 2002, the army expanded this training zone and took out compulsory purchase orders for the grazing rights of 70 farmers on the three fells. Many now feel betrayed by the ministry for reneging on its pledge to keep the land on the commons register.William Paterson, a farmer whose family has been rearing sheep in Cumbria since the 1800s, is one of the dozens who lost the right to graze their livestock.He said: “When the MoD negotiated the buy-out and extinguishment of the commoners’ grazing rights on Hilton Fell, Murton Fell and Warcop Fell, it agreed to leave the fells on the commons register.“On the strength of this undertaking, the commoners accepted the buy-out. It is a breach of trust that the MoD now wants to cancel that undertaking without making a further agreement.” Today marks the beginning of a two-day public inquiry between MoD barristers and numerous campaign groups, such as The Open Spaces Society and the Hilton Commoners, who are opposing the plan.An MoD spokesman said: “We are not proposing to restrict public access in any way and have no plans to sell the land. We have applied to deregister land at Warcop Training Area to safeguard the MoD’s ability to train.” Warcop now represents 1 percent of the ‘common’ land left in England, and the controversial proposal has renewed fears of even more public terrain being lost to the government. Others believe the government may be testing the law to see if they can deregister commons elsewhere. The Ministry of Defence has been accused of a ‘land grab’ as they attempt to turn common land into a firing range for the first time in over a century.Cumbrian villagers are fighting against the plan which seeks to transfer ownership of the buffer zone to the British army, leaving farmers unable to graze a major part of the Pennines. In the first attempt to deregulate common land since 1914, The MoD has applied to Cumbria County Council to deregister 11,200 acres near Warcop Training Estate.Farm leaders have warned that the move would bring an end to hundreds of years of traditional hill farming in the upland areas of Warcop, Hilton and Murton.John McDarren, Secretary of the Hilton Commoners, a group that formerly had rights over part of the MoD training area, said: “This is a land grab and it is not acceptable”.A third of the country was common until the 16th century when landlords and farmers began to enclose sections with fences and walls, sparking peasant rebellions. Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily Front Page newsletter and new audio briefings.