2 November 2001

First draft maps of right-to-roam land set for publication

By Isabel Davies

LANDOWNERS will get a chance later this month to check whether officials have correctly identified land affected by right-to-roam legislation.

The first draft maps of open access land in south-east and north-west England will be published on Nov 12, said the Countryside Agency. The documents will show what mapping consultants believe should be classified as open country and registered common land and therefore open to walkers.

The maps are being released a month later than planned because the agency had to wait for new legislation to allow the maps to be put into the public domain. Their release signals the start of a three-month consultation period.

William Tew, director of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors rural faculty, urged farmers not to overlook the issue even though the right-to-roam doesnt come into effect until 2005. Farmers should examine the maps so they could appeal if they disagreed with the way land was classified, he said.

Other interested parties are well prepared. The Ramblers Association web-site says: "Walkers will have the opportunity to check the maps and let the CA know whether any areas have been left off. These three months will be the only chance that walkers and others will be able to put forward their views on the maps."

Mr Tew said landowners and land occupiers would get another chance to appeal when provisional maps were published next year.

But he added: "It is vital the Countryside Agency, the body responsible for mapping land for access, gets representations on the maps at the earliest opportunity."

This would ensure they received a balanced picture and could make sensible judgements about any amendments. That would avoid DEFRA being inundated with appeals next summer.

"If this were to happen there could be significant delays in the process which would work to the disadvantage of all involved," he warned.

Maps will be available in local authority offices, CA regional offices and selected libraries. They will also be displayed at one-day roadshows which will be organised in both regions.

The Countryside Agencys deadline for responses is Feb 11, 2002. &#42