Right To Roam - What Happens Next?
The Countryside Act is now law, but it may take five years for the right to roam to be fully implemented
Posted: 4 December 2000
Ramblers and other outdoor users are celebrating the passing of
the Countryside and Rights of Way Bill which will eventually open up
'millions of acres of uncultivated countryside' to walkers and
climbers. But what happens next?
The key word is 'eventually' - over the next three or four years,
the Countryside Agency has to establish which areas of land are
eligible for open access - see this excellent summary
of the Act's main provisions at the Ramblers web site - a task
which it says will be 'contracted out'.
Once these areas have been determined, the boundaries can be shown
on maps and open access becomes a reality. Although at present there
seems to be no firm arrangements, it's hard to believe that the
Ordnance Survey won't be heavily involved in the process, not least
becasue if the boundaries aren't shown on OS maps, the whole exercise
becomes virtually futile.
Having said all that, it seems likely that common land and areas
of moor and mountain above 600 metres, which are already mapped and
can be determined easily will be opened up more quickly. Sadly golf
courses are not eligible for open access, a grave disappointment to
those of us who view golf as a tragic waste of good countryside.
Mountain bikes will not be allowed on open access land and will be
limited to the existing rights of way, viz bridleways and
In a release
the Countryside Agency says:
'Our priority will be to make the arrangements work well on the
ground so that people can feel confident about using their new rights
and the impact on farmers and landowners will be minimal. We will not
be rushing in to full access rights straight away. These will only
come into force once we have mapped the open countryside and after
there has been widespread consultation on this mapping.'
In the case of AONBs (Areas of Outstanding National Beauty) which
cover 15.6 per-cent of England's land area, management plans will
also have to be drawn up and, in the case of larger AONBs, new
conservation boards set up.
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