29 September 2000

Prescott dismisses CROW Bill dissent

DEPUTY Prime Minister John Prescott made it clear that the government intends to push on with its Countryside and Rights of Way Bill (CROW) despite opposition for farmers and landowners.

As he addressed conference at the start of the week, Mr Prescott said some of the Tories in the House of Lords dont like the CROW Bill, but it was government policy and the intention was to implement it.

"We believe our natural heritage is for the whole of our people to respect and enjoy. It is not just for the privileged few," he said.

But speaking at the Country Landowners Association fringe meeting, president Anthony Bosan-quet said it was vital the CROW Bill was significantly improved.

Questions, which include adequate controls on dogs, restrictions on night time access, adequate temporary or area closure provisions and the whole issue of occupiers liability, still remain largely unanswered, he said.

But at a meeting held by the Ramblers Association, Kate Ashbrook, chairman of the associations access committee, said it was time landowners stopped thinking of the Bill in terms of creating "conflict" and started co-operating on the issue.

"Its extremely disappointing to hear the landowning lobby continuing to talk of conflict. The Countryside Bill is a fair and balanced piece of legislation which considers the views of landowners and the public," she said.