14 April 2000
Ramblers could jump the gun — RICS

By Isabel Davies

FARMERS are in danger of clashing with walkers because many people believe the right to roam has already been implemented, it has been claimed.

A new report by the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors has urged ministers to ensure that the public understands the timing of right-to-roam provisions.

The report, in response to the draft Countryside Bill, suggests it was premature for walkers to herald the bill as a victory for ramblers.

It warns: “The public are not aware that this right of access could be two or more years away and that it will only be to defined open country.”

William Tew, RICS spokesman said problems could occur if walkers thought access had already been agreed and farmers turned them away.

He added: “This summer there could be ill-feeling, especially if people have travelled considerable distances to go walking.”

The comments come days after the NFU Mutual insurance company released figures estimating that sheep worrying cost farmers an estimated 2 million a year.

Company officials called on walkers to keep pets under control after 24,000 sheep were killed or injured by dogs last year – an 8.5% increase on 1998.

The Ramblers Association claims one-quarter of the 130,000-mile rights of way network in England and Wales is either deliberately blocked or obstructed.