02 June 1998
CLA threatens Government with
legal action over access
By Catherine Hughes
LANDOWNERS and farmers have threatened to take the Government to the European Court if it forces them to open up their land to the public.
Ian MacNicol, Country Landowners Association president, today (2 June) urged the Government to allow farmers to open up their land under a “voluntary” scheme rather than imposing legislation on them.
Mr MacNicol said the CLAs legal team believes it would have a strong case in the European Court, under the Human Rights Act, if the Government tried to force farmers to provide greater access.
Releasing the CLAs response to the Governments green paper on improved access to the countryside, Mr MacNicol promised Government that the association “could and would” deliver greater access if it were allowed to pursue the voluntary path.
The CLA would like to see limited legislation to protect the rights of farmers, wildlife and the environment from the actions of humans and dogs.
According to a poll carried out for the CLA, the legislative path would cost the Government £60 million a year while the voluntary option would cost between £4 and £7m a year.
Speaking about the CLAs preferred voluntary option of minimum legislation, Dr Alan Woods, environment and water advisor, said: “If we implement this, the Government can be confident of a high take-up by farmers.”
In a recent CLA survey, 84% of landowners who actively take part in voluntary access schemes said they have had no problems or conflicts with members of the public. Dr Wood highlighted this example as proof that voluntary access schemes do work.
Submissions to the Governments green paper on greater access to the countryside close on Friday (5 June).