23 November 2001

Decision on access by end of year

MINISTERS should reveal by the end of the year whether walkers will be given the right to roam on access land as each area is mapped rather than in one go in 2005.

Rural affairs minister Alun Michael has said the Act allows government to choose for the right to be commenced at different times in different areas.

This means that open country and registered common land in the south east and north west of England, the first areas mapped, could be open to ramblers as soon as 2003.

In answer to a parliamentary question, he said: "I am considering the option of regional commencement, and hope to make an announcement before the end of the year." &#42