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Stackyard News Feb 2012

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Country Access System Needs to be Modernised

The CLA this week published The Right Way Forward: The CLA’s common sense approach to access in the countryside – calling for a shake-up of the access and public rights of way system.


woodland walk

The CLA report says the system must be improved in a way that boosts efficiency and gets better value for money.

CLA North Regional Director Dorothy Fairburn said: “The public rights of way system in England is governed by a failing bureaucratic and legislative system which is long-winded, expensive and completely incomprehensible to most people.

“Even to call rights of way a ‘system’ suggests an order and logic not apparent in reality. Many thousands of pounds of public money can be spent pursuing claims for paths which have not been used for centuries while present-day users struggle along overgrown paths because there is not enough money for maintenance. This cannot be right.”

“We should look at the public access we already have in the North West and determine where it needs to be improved for the benefit of the majority. We should consider where people actually want to go, and their safety. If that means opening new paths or cycle ways, and closing those now historic and redundant, then that is good use of public money.”

Miss Fairburn added: “It can take many years to process a rights of way claim, resulting in enormous cost and ongoing uncertainty for all. Even once fought and won, cases can be reopened and examined all over again – hardly a sensible use of increasingly scarce resources.

“Although local authorities have seen their budgets cut, the grand plan for an all-England coastal path, complete with ‘spreading room’, remains a key objective of Natural England.”

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