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Lord Glentoran moved Amendment 157:

Page 3, line 26, at end insert--
("( ) A map prepared under this section must distinguish between--
(a) open country which is accessible to the public by any highway, and
(b) open country which is not accessible to the public by any highway.").

The noble Lord said: This amendment relates to mapping and refers back to the discussions that we had on the last occasion. It provides that a map prepared under this clause should distinguish between,

    (b) open country which is not accessible to the public by any highway".

The amendment would require the Countryside Agency and the Countryside Council for Wales, in mapping access, to distinguish between areas that are accessible because a highway terminates on them, or they border a highway, or they are crossed by a highway; and other areas that will be inaccessible unless new routes are created to link them to highways. The reference to "highway" means any public road (carriageway) or other public right of way, whether a byway open to all traffic, a restricted byway, a bridleway or footpath. Making this distinction will help to focus minds on the issues of whether it is worth while to include these areas on maps of access land in the first place and, if they are included, whether it is worth while creating new rights of way to link them to existing highways.

If the maps show these areas in different ways--for example, in different colours--it will be possible to obtain a clear view of the extent to which proposed access land is accessible on any map sheet. That will facilitate a debate about the value of including inaccessible areas on the map at all and about the issues raised by any desire to link the inaccessible areas to roads and other highways.

Requiring such a distinction to be made will be helpful in informing the consultation process and identifying potential issues early on. That will be to the

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benefit of local authorities, the Countryside Agency and others. I believe that my explanation is very easy to understand. We had a debate about what to do with fast-track land above 600 metres that had no right of way to it and no access. This will just make that decision-making process somewhat easier while the mapping is taking place.

I turn to Amendment No. 161. This is a similar amendment to that proposed to remove the test that areas disregarded must be small. Not all land will be satisfactory for access, especially inaccessible land. Consideration must be given to the costs involved in providing access to that land as against the public worth of having that land as access land.

The countryside bodies should have discretion to decide not to include certain areas of inaccessible land within the statutory maps. This discretion would allow for the exclusion of areas of land (including areas of common land) which are inaccessible and where there is little value in providing access.

It is important that accessibility is added as a criterion in deciding whether to include areas of land within the maps, particularly in view of the potential considerable costs involved in establishing new paths to link these "island" sites to the rights of way network or roads. We have had much discussion on that subject. I believe that everyone is well aware of the potential problem of having "islands" of accessible land with no obvious access routes. I do not think that I need say any more. I beg to move.

Earl Peel: I speak briefly to Amendment No. 157. Although it is pretty obvious, it draws our attention to a rather important issue. It seems to me that the real point of the amendment is that it highlights the need for the access authority not to issue any maps of open country where there is no means of getting there by a footpath.

I assume that in constructing such footpaths to reach access areas where paths do not exist at present--or will not exist when the mapping process starts--account will have to be taken of a number of different issues. I refer to farming or land practices; nature conservation and geological interest. I imagine that the access authority will take all those issues into account when the footpaths are negotiated. Although I understand that an appeals system is in place as regards mapping, will the Bill establish an appeals system as regards footpaths that may not be situated on access land but which constitute a means for the general public to reach the access land? I notice that the noble Lord is frowning. That makes me think that he does not understand the point I am making.

Lord Whitty: I think that I understand the situation the noble Earl describes. However, in so far as we are talking about access through non-access land where there is no pre-existing or statutory access, footpaths, or, indeed, any form of highway, would either have to constitute a right of way already--in which case the issue of appeal does not arise--or would have to be negotiated voluntarily with the various bodies concerned, possibly through a local access forum. I do

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not believe that the issue of appeal arises in that case either because, by definition, the landowner would have agreed to that; or he would have had to accept that there was a right of way across his property in the first place.

Earl Peel: Is it not conceivable that if the access authority could not reach a satisfactory agreement with the landowner, or with the series of landowners that might be involved, presumably at some point a footpath would be imposed on landowners to enable the public to reach the access areas? Would there be a right of appeal under those circumstances?

Lord Whitty: That would arise only at the end of the process I have described. If agreement cannot be achieved, there could be an order under the highways legislation--in most cases, presumably to establish a highway in the form of a footpath. In that situation, there is in that Act an appeal to the Secretary of State. None of that is covered in this Bill.

I am not happy with the amendments. We discussed the case of the over-600 metres land. I made the same objections as I make now to what is covered in Amendment No. 157. If access is required only by a highway, one excludes many other possibilities of having valid access to that land. One could have neighbouring access land, statutory access land, voluntary access land or de facto access land where there was no right of way but there was existing access over which people had already de jure the right to reach that island. Therefore specifying "highway" is not an appropriate way to deal with this issue.

Lord Glentoran: I thank the Minister for giving way. I do not think that what he said impacts on the amendment. The amendment relates to mapping. It makes it easier to see whether the problem he outlines can be solved and whether there is a value in solving it. I accept that there are many ways of giving access. However, if there is no access at the stage the mapping is done, and access has to be created, the amendment highlights the problem so that it can be addressed quickly.

Lord Whitty: The amendment would provide that the area should be excluded from being access land or, as the noble Lord suggests, should be painted a different colour on the map, giving it a different status from access land. However, in many cases it would be not only access land but accessible even though there was not a footpath or road to it.

Amendment No. 161 expressly provides for the exclusion of such islands from maps of open country. From what the noble Lord said in response to my previous point, I interpret that that would be after having considered whether there were other forms of access in the highway. As regards the responsibilities of the mapping agency, this is clearly moorland and heathland. Therefore it should be access land. How people access it, in terms of mandatory access, may have to be a matter for further negotiation. The local forum and other means of consultation would have to

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be engaged in. It may take some time to identify such land. In the meantime, it is possible for the landowner permissively to allow access--it may be to his friends, or at certain times of the year--to that land to the island. When people reach that land, they have open access to that land. It would be wrong, therefore, to exclude it from the map of access land.

The difficulties of finding an easier route than one which everyone recognises and which is available to everyone is an important issue that needs to be addressed by the local consultation process. I do not think that the solution in Amendment No. 161 would be helpful or would correctly represent the status of the land.

Lord Glentoran: I thank the Minister for that explanation. We must avoid misleading the public. To produce maps with islands of access land which are clearly inaccessible legally could lead to problems. That is why I have suggested that such areas should be highlighted to draw them to the attention of the necessary authorities. They would then either have to do some work and negotiate and plan access or decide that the whole process was too expensive or not worth it, in which case the areas should not be advertised as access land.

Having said that, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

[Amendment No. 158 not moved.]

3.45 a.m.

Lord Luke moved Amendment No. 159:

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