Select Committee on Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Appendices to the Minutes of Evidence


Memorandum submitted by the Open Spaces Society (G18)


  1.  The Open Spaces Society, formally the Commons, Open Spaces and Footpaths Preservation Society, is Britain's oldest national conservation body, founded in 1865. The society campaigns to create and conserve common land, town and village greens, open spaces and public paths, in town and country, throughout England and Wales.

  2.  We are concerned that DEFRA's countryside division has insufficient resources to carry out its vital role, particularly in relation to national parks, and common land and town and village greens.


  3.  We are particularly concerned that the proposals for the future of common land have still not been published, more than two years after the closing date for comments on DETR's consultation paper Greater protection and better management of common land in England and Wales. We understand that it is the intention to publish proposals before too long, but we consider that they should have been published long ago. The matter is urgent, as we must ensure the long-term protection of our precious commons from over- and undergrazing and encroachment from unlawful works.


  4.  We trust that the designation of the New Forest and South Downs as national parks will not be delayed through lack of resources.


  5.  We are also anxious that there should be no delays from DEFRA on the implementation of freedom to roam under the Countryside and Rights of Way Act. We are aware that the timetable for publishing the regulations has slipped, for example on closures and restrictions, local access fora and dedication of access land under section 16 of the act, and trust this will not lead to a delay in implementation of this much-wanted legislation. We trust that DEFRA will publish proposals soon for early commencement of some of the regions.

30 May 2002

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