20 September 2001
Agency delays right-to-roam maps

By Isabel Davies

THE Countryside Agency has delayed until November publishing the first maps detailing land it believes will be affected by right-to-roam legislation.

Officials planned a consultation for maps of south-east England in late September. But a delay in the parliamentary process has halted proceedings.

The maps show open country and registered common land to which the public will have access under the Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000.

Kirsty Shaw, head of the agency team carrying out mapping work, said secondary legislation to allow the consultation had yet to be approved.

She said: “We are hoping that we will get final approval on 1 November, and then consultation can start on 16 November.”

Once the process starts, farmers and landowners will be given an opportunity to view the maps and give their opinions on the routes shown.

The agency will choose venues where the maps will be permanently available and also run a series of roadshows to highlight the issue.

Farmers who disagree with boundaries drawn on the maps will be invited to fill in a form detailing why and submit supporting evidence.

Comments will be taken into account and provisional maps issued.

At this stage, if landowners still feel land has been wrongly identified as open country, they will be able to appeal to the secretary of state.

The Countryside Council for Wales, which is carrying out the exercise in the Principality, has already produced digital versions of common-land maps.

It has updated the documents for the first time since the 1960s.

The Farmers Union of Wales said the maps were vital for all farmers and graziers who have access to common land.

FUW Common Land Committee chairwoman Lorraine Howell said farmers should attend roadshows to check that the maps were accurate.

The maps will still also be available at local authority offices for inspection, and there will be an opportunity for farmers to submit written observations.