12 March 1999

Controversy over environment job

THE appointment of Ewen Cameron as chairman of the new Countryside Agency has sparked controversy.

Mr Cameron, a former president of the Country Landowners Association – the most vociferous opponent of a statutory right to roam – will now be responsible for administering the governments access legislation when it is introduced.

Only last weekend The Ramblers Association protested on Mr Camerons Somerset farm, claiming that he had illegally blocked a footpath with a wheat crop.

Ramblers Association access chief Kate Ashbrook said she was surprised at Mr Camerons appointment because the agency would have the final say on issues of access which could not be resolved by local access forums.

On his appointment Mr Cameron said the governments access package was a major step forward.

"The government has proposed a framework for improving access to open country that I wholeheartedly support. It incorporates clarity for the walker while ensuring that land managers are able to continue with the normal operations of management.

"I hope that all parties, including local authorities, will put their shoulders to the wheel in a concerted effort to make it work on the ground," he said.