lower north west of England are published by the Countryside Agency today, to
give everyone with an interest in increased access to the countryside the
opportunity to comment. The start of public consultation and the publication of the draft maps is part of a process which will eventually see people able to walk across more open country and all registered common land under new rights introduced in last year's Countryside & Rights of Way Act.
Speaking at the launch of the draft maps, Pam Warhust, chair of the National
Countryside Access Forum and deputy chair of the Countryside Agency, said: 'Today marks an important step in turning this Act into action. The Countryside Agency has taken forward a complex piece of legislation and is putting the ground work in place so that people will feel confident about using their new rights and the impact on farmers and landowners will be fully understandable. We've taken a great deal of care to produce these maps, using a wide range of existing data. We've delivered on time. Now we want people to look at them, see what land has been included and tell us if we've got it right or not.
'During the next three months we will be out and about, running road shows
across these two areas so that people can come and look at the maps, hear about
how they were created and how they can comment on them, and talk to our staff
direct. People can also look at the draft maps on our websiteor in local council offices, some libraries, national park visitor centres and Countryside Agency offices across the south east and lower north west from Friday, November 16.
'This year's foot and mouth outbreak has made clear how important it is that
adequate safeguards are in place to protect the business that sustains the
countryside. When the current crisis is over, the more that people can find a
warm welcome and experience the English countryside, the more they will
understand the importance of the systems that support it. Every effort is
being made to ensure that all means of access to England's countryside link up
and that everyone, whether landowners or users, are clear on their rights and
responsibilities, before full access rights come into force.'
Rural affairs minister Alun Michael said: 'The mapping process is an
important milestone towards delivering the new right of access. The
consultation beginning today offers an opportunity for people, especially those
living in the south east and lower north west, to have their say. I hope
everyone with an interest in access to the countryside will want to look at the
new draft maps and let the Countryside Agency have their views.
'These draft maps are the first step in a consultative process which will
culminate in the issue of conclusive maps of open country and registered common
land from 2003 onwards. Those conclusive maps will givepeople new confidence
about where they will be able to walk in the countryside.'
The Countryside Agency is taking comments from people about whether open
country and registered common land has been correctly mapped in the south
east** and lower north west*** regions of England between 12 November 2001 and
11 February 2002. An easy to use comment form, which takes people through all
of the information we need from them, will be available at all road shows,
places where the draft maps are lodged (local council offices, some libraries,
national park visitor centres, Countryside Agency offices), on the website and
from the helpline.
Anyone wanting additional information about the consultation process should
call our mapping help line on 0845 100 3298 or visit the Countryside Agency website.
* Areas of open country which have access restrictions on them due to,
for example, ministry of defence activity, will be identified on the Countryside Agency's maps as open country. Access restrictions that are currently in place will
continue to apply when new access rights are invoked.
** South east - Kent, Surrey, East and West Sussex and outer London
boroughs of Bexley, Bromley, Croydon, Hillingdon, Hounslow, Kingston upon
Thames, Merton, Richmond upon Thames and Sutton.
*** Lower north west - Lancashire (excluding a small area north of the
A65), a small part of Cumbria south of the A65, part of North Yorkshire
(including Craven), part of West Yorkshire (including Bradford, Calderdale and
Kirklees), Merseyside, Greater Manchester, Cheshire, and parts of
Staffordshire, Derbyshire and South Yorkshire in the Peak District National
The open access provisions are not in force yet. When they are, the
right will not apply to land used for the intensive rearing of livestock. Nor
will the right apply to any land where a prohibition on entry is in force under
the Animal Health Acts. Emergency directions can also be made under the
Countryside & Rights of Way Act 2000 (CRoW) excluding or restricting access;
mapping of all open country and registered common land across England
should be complete by autumn 2004 and people should be able to walk on this
land by spring 2005;
'open country' is mountain, moor, heath and down land;
the provisional maps have been prepared, with help from specialist
mapping consultancy Binnie, Black & Veatch, using a variety of data, for
example the moorland line compiled by MAFF and the Phase 1 habitat surveys
carried out by local authorities, as well as aerial photography and the various
The Countryside Agency is responsible for advising government and
taking action on issues relating to the social, economic and environmental
well-being of the English countryside.
Under section 4 of the CRoW Act, the Countryside Agency is charged
with the production and issue of conclusive maps indicating areas of open