31 July 2001
Government consults on roam rules

By Isabel Davies

THE government is pressing ahead with the introduction of right-to-roam laws by consulting on how best to set up local access forums across England.

The forums will provide advice to local authorities and statutory rural management body the Countryside Agency on how to improve public access.

The governments consultation paper invites views on the establishment, functions and administration of the new statutory bodies.

By law, forum membership will have to strike a fair balance between people who work on the land and those benefiting from the new rights such as ramblers.

Local authorities will have a duty to consult the groups on issues such as the draft maps of affected land, byelaws affecting access and exclusions from access.

Alun Michael, rural affairs minister, said: “The government is committed to giving people greater freedom to the countrys open countryside.

“The local access forums will have an important part to play in making a practical reality of the new right of access, helping to ensure the particular interests of people in the area are represented.”

The governments hope is that it can implement the new right of access by the end of 2005.

It is currently drawing up draft maps of areas of the south-east and north-west which will be put out for consultation in September.

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