19 August 1997

Right to roam bill may be paid by ramblers

RAMBLERS may have to pay for access if right to roam legislation is introduced.

The suggestion came from environment minster, Michael Meacher, when he met ramblers for a walk on open moorland at Boulsworth Hill, Hebden Bridge.

The normally closed moor, a special protection area, which has one of the most diverse plant communities in West Yorkshire with important breeding areas for wild birds, was opened for the day.

Mr Meacher listened to the views of the Moorland Association, tenant farmer John Westall, and the owners agent Charlie York.

Mr Meacher said he wanted to see hill farmers staying in business and he wanted to look at ways to protect and enhance their livelihoods. But stock disturbance and moorland fires, which could arise from a right to roam policy, would have the opposite effect, warned the Moorland Association.

&#8226 A right to roam consultation paper will be published later this month. Implementing legislation is not expected for another year.