Agriculture Bill

Written evidence submitted by t he Cornwall Countryside Access Forum (CCAF) (AB61)

CCAF is an independent advisory statutory body which promotes improvement of public access and open-air recreation for the benefit of all. Local Access Forums were established under sections 94 and 95 of the Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000 and are governed by The Local Access Forums (England) Regulations 2007. CCAF has a reasonable balance of interests of both landowners and users (e.g. walkers, cyclists, horseriders). Cornwall has 2,778.3 miles of public rights of way.

This evidence is submitted in relation to Part 1 Clauses 1-3. The Secretary of State seeks powers to provide financial assistance to those managing the land and delivering public benefits.

The case for Access - 

1. Access to the countryside and coast has been shown to bring benefits to both physical and mental health and is only possible when a network of Public Rights of Way (PROW) is well maintained. 

2. "Well managed public rights of way will encourage people to make healthier and more sustainable transport choices, and thereby help to reduce congestion, pollution and road accidents."   (Guidance on Local Access Forums in England issued by the Secretary of State, March 2009)

Enhancing and updating the PROW network - 

1. The PROW network established by the original Definitive Map has been amended over time. Users of the network (walkers, cyclists, horse riders and carriage drivers) submit Definitive Map Modification Orders (DMMOs) to obtain recognition of PROWS omitted from the map. A lost way may improve connectivity within the network and create a safe route away from vehicular traffic. Separation of users and traffic is increasingly important in areas such as Cornwall with our narrow lanes.

2. Applying to the Local authority for a DMMO  (Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981) requires certain investigations and the submission of supporting documents ( eg Land Registry, Tithe Map, and Apportionment, 1910 Finance Map and Field Book, OS series) 

3. Once registered by the local authority, the application is investigated and a decision on inclusion made by the appropriate Officers. In Cornwall about 120 DMMOs are currently registered. The cut-off date for registration is 2026.

CCAF would like the Committee to consider two recommendations:

· CCAF supports the provision of financial assistance to landowners, land managers and farmers delivering a public benefit of Access to countryside and coast. 

· In order to continue enhancement of the PROW network CCAF recommends an extension to the cut-off date for the registration of DMMOs. An extension from 2026 to safeguard the established network and protect user's rights to apply for DMMOs has much to recommend it and few apparent disadvantages. The value of Access to health and well-being is recognised. Provision of financial assistance to land managers would be an encouragement to enhancing the network, by extending the deadline from 2026 to 2050.

November 2018

 

Prepared 13th November 2018