21 March 2000
Right-to-roam bill is ‘damaging’

RIGHT to roam legislation is heavy-handed and damaging to farmers and conservationists, claims shadow environment secretary Archie Norman.

Speaking in the Commons on Monday (20 March) during the second reading of the Countryside and Rights of Way Bill, Mr Norman said some aspects – increased protection of sites of specific scientific interest and rights of way – were acceptable.

But he said it was “overall a very disappointing piece of legislation”, the worst aspect of which was right-to-roam provisions, which raised “fundamental questions of principle”, reports The Daily Telegraph.

Environment minister Michael Meacher told the House there was no question of bill, which will open up one-ninth of the land in England and Wales, allowing walkers to trample crops.

Landowners would have the automatic right to close their land for up to 28 days each year and apply for longer closures in the interests of “land management”.

Hexham Conservative MP Peter Atkinson, a member of the Country Landowners Association and National Farmer Union, asked what compensation farmers would receive if their property was damaged.

But Workington MP Dale Campbell-Savours, Labour, said in more than 20 years he had never received a single letter from sheep farmers worried about their land.

  • The Daily Telegraph 21/02/2000 page 10