Managing access

The CLA brings members up to speed on access, Countryside Code and the public rights of way network

During May, with its two bank holidays, the further easing of lockdown restrictions and half-term, the public rights of way network was put through its paces again. While these events often come with well-known challenges around public access, they also present welcome commercial opportunities for those running leisure and tourism businesses.

Fires break out after dry weather

Spring has been very dry, and news of devasting moorland wild fires was not surprising. Not only firefighters but local farmers, gamekeepers and volunteers from the Mountain Rescue worked tirelessly to help extinguish the Marsden Moor fire.

Oldham Mountain Rescue Team praised local rural workers’ whose ‘great effort’ and “local knowledge was invaluable when finding the best routes to access the area using off-road vehicles in order to get water and kit to the right places”.

Now, by use of a Public Space Protection Order, the lighting of fires, barbecues, fireworks and Chinese lanterns has been banned in the High Peak to help prevent further incidents from occurring.

Wording surrounding the use of barbecues in the revamped Countryside Code had caused the CLA concern, which we fed back to Natural England.

It has confirmed the wording will be altered to make the Code’s messaging clearer and stronger in this regard. If members wish to obtain hard copies of the Countryside Code poster they can email their request to: enquiries@naturalengland.org.uk. Natural England has also set up a new Communications Partner Committee, which we plan to be part of to increase the Code’s reach.

Virtual roadshows well received

It was wonderful to see such good attendance at the recent regional CLA access roadshows which were held online. A number of the key issues discussed in detail during these events are also covered in the CLA 71 access handbook, Preventing the Creation of Public Rights of Way. This covers everything from how public rights of way are created, claims for routes to be added to the Definitive Map and objecting to claims, a comprehensive guide to Section 31(6) landowner deposits including how to submit them, through to information about permissive paths together with a number of model statements, declarations and agreements. You can buy a copy by clicking here and searching for 'CLA71'.

In relation to ongoing policy work, public rights of way reform and the Deregulation Act 2015, Defra has recruited another project lead to progress this area of long-awaited change. It hopes to confirm a date to lay the legislation shortly, which the CLA supports.

For members affected by the England Coast Path, Natural England has confirmed 63 of the 67 stretches have had reports submitted to the secretary of state for approval. Some 27 whole stretches and 15 part stretches have now been approved. Currently less than 20% is open for walkers to use.

The next 12 months will see its programme move into the ‘establishment stage’ where Natural England work with local authorities around the coast to make the path a reality on the ground.

Contact the CLA

Contact your regional office or national team, who will be pleased to assist with any queries or concerns you have on public access.

Key contact:

Sophie Dwerryhouse
Sophie Dwerryhouse National Access Adviser