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COME AND TALK ABOUT WHERE YOU CAN WALK - COMMENT ON DRAFT MAPS INVITED

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Draft maps of open country* and registered common land in the south east and ...
Draft maps of open country* and registered common land in the south east and

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

Park.

Notes

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

Commons Registers;

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

country.

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