Landowners express concern about how ‘right to roam’ interpreted as walkers celebrate mass trespass of Kinder Scout

LANDOWNERS’ leaders have expressed concern about how ‘right to roam’ legislation is being interpreted as countryside ramblers celebrate the 80th anniversary of the mass trespass of Kinder Scout, the protest which led to the creation of National Parks.

In 2000 ‘right to roam’, or the Countryside Rights of Way (CRoW) Act, extended open access to mountain, moorland, heath and downland.

The Country Land and Business Association (CLA) says it is “the first to want people to get out and enjoy the countryside”, but has expressed its concerns about perceptions of rights allowed under CRoW. Despite much publicity over the years, the CLA says that a number of issues are still causing confusion.

CLA East regional director, Nicola Currie said: “The CLA welcomes careful walkers. It is understandable given the commonly used nickname ‘right to roam’ that some people are still puzzled about specific points of the Act, but because of the amount of funds spent on publicising the rights, it is disappointing. Landowners and managers have spent a lot of time and effort adhering to the Act so this anniversary is a good time clear up some of the more common misunderstandings.

“Open access applies only to mountain, moor, heath and down, it does not apply to all farm land in general. Here there are plenty of footpaths and bridleways and it is important that people appreciate the need to stay on the path and keep dogs under control, as this land is farming’s workplace, where crops and livestock are reared for food.”

Mrs Currie said the biggest misunderstanding is about the grass strips or ‘margins’ around the edge of many arable fields.

“These are there specifically for conservation and environmental purposes. Tempting as it may be to want to walk on them, these areas are not open to the public access and must be left undisturbed for nature.

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“Farmland habitat will always be more environmentally productive if everyone appreciates its value. Our members welcome walkers, it is important with an increasingly urban population that people can get out and enjoy our beautiful countryside.”