Commons assent for New Right to Roam Bill

24 July 1997

Commons assent for New Right to Roam Bill

New proposals for making the countryside accessible to all were introduced to the Commons last night in a bid to achieve the legal right to roam.

Labours Paddy Tipping (Sherwood), Ramblers Association vice president and an enthusiastic walker, said: The right to roam in the wild places has been called for in Parliament for over a century but suggestions had been blocked and emasculated by landowners.

His Access to The Countryside Bill to amend the law of trespass gave the right to roam on mountain, moorland, common land, heath and down, but he stressed: Its not an unrestricted right to roam.

Rights are clearly linked with responsibilities. Freedom to walk places responsibility on the walker to respect the countryside.

Mr Tipping, speaking of fears of the Country Landowners Association and others that they could face insurance claims from walkers, said it was made clear in the Bill that landowners had no responsibility in this area. The costs of increasing access to the country were minimal, he argued, despite CLA claims that it could cost landowners 2billion.

He described his Bill as reasonable because its not a Utopian demand for everything that the access lobby would wish for. I believe that by the Millennium we shall at last truly be able to say that this land is our land.

Tory former Cabinet Minister Tom King said the Bill would create a plethora of legal complications. We abandon the voluntary principle at our peril.

The Bill was given an unopposed formal first reading, but stands no chance of becoming law without Government support.

Parliamentary Service, PA News

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