• CONSERVATIVE leader William Hague has attacked the governments policy on access to the countryside, claiming it would amount to a legal right to trespass across other peoples property.
In his first speech on agriculture since being elected shadow leader, Mr Hague told delegates at the Berkshire College of Agriculture that Labour wanted to impose greater access regardless of the impact on rural communities.
While agreeing that increased access to the countryside was important, Mr Hague said it should be done in cooperation with the people who lived and worked there. "Financial incentives were provided to encourage greater countryside access through the Countryside Access Scheme to increase opportunities for public access to farm land.
"Labour, in contrast, want to impose greater access to the countryside – regardless of the impact on rural communities, or the problems it will cause. Labours "Right to Roam" policy is opposed by the NFU and the CLA and would amount to a legal right to trespass across other peoples property," he said.
Environment minister Michael Meacher is currently drawing up a green paper on access, which is due to be launched sometime in the Autumn.