23 February 1996

Bodmin Bill progresses

SUSTAINABLE farming on Bodmin Moor moved a step closer after the Bodmin Moor Bill received its third reading in the House of Lords.

The Earl of Cranbrook, chairman of English Nature and sponsor of the Bill, described the moorland habitat as fragile, with overgrazing on large areas and also some cases of undergrazing.

It was vital, he insisted, that the use of the moorland should be managed in a sustainable way. Farming practices must be integrated to safeguard and enhance the natural value of Englands most south-westerly upland.

"That for the people who live there, will improve the viablility of farms on the moor, encourage diversification and enhance the tourism potential," he said. It would also become possible to obtain environmentally sensitive area status for the moor.

, with the associated grants.

The Earl said that since the Bills second reading, the only big change to be made was that all references to public access had been withdrawn. The original proposal was to allow regulated access to areas where there was previously no such agreement. But debate had failed to agree how such access could be provided so the clause was dropped he said.

He agreed that access to open country, including commons, should be addressed nationally and not through a piece of local legislation.