LANDOWNERS ARE angry that farmers are having to “prove their own innocence” when it comes to the mapping of right-to-roam land.

John Mortimer, south west regional director of the Country Land and Business Association, said land which the Countryside Agency has included on the maps stayed there unless the owner could persuade an appeal that it should not be.

“That is guilty until proven innocent – and it‘s a problem confronting hundreds of landowners, large and small, all over the country,” he said.

“If an owner disagrees over the inclusion of an area of land, they not only have to prove the agency wrong – but they generally have to meet the costs of doing so as well.”

The CLA says that incompetent handling of the mapping process by the Countryside Agency is disrupting people‘s lives and threatening land values.

“We accept that we have to live with the law but the whole process smacks of incompetence and under resourcing,” said Mr Mortimer.

“Detailed comments submitted at the draft map stage have often been ignored, forcing the owner to appeal against the provisional maps.”