Call for new country charter

Andrew Shirley of the CLA
Andrew Shirley of the CLA

Businesses in the countryside are calling for a common sense approach to public access and rights of way.

The County Landowners’ Association has published The Right Way Forward: The CLA’s common sense approach to access in the countryside – a no-nonsense report calling for a shake-up of the access and public rights of way system.

The association says it is “highly desirable” to improve access in a way that enhances the system, boosts efficiency and gets better value for money for everybody, and the report addresses these concerns in a series of practical recommendations.

CLA Midlands Rural Surveyor Andrew Shirley said: “Public rights of way are a valuable public resource but much of the network is based on historical evidence rather than current or future requirements. There is no doubt it needs to be improved for everyone’s benefit.

“Yet public access is a minefield of legal complexity, a tortuous and archaic system loved only by those who can turn its convoluted processes to their own advantage, sapping much needed resources from ongoing maintenance and improvement.

“The emphasis going forward must be on improving the existing right of way network rather than creating new, and unnecessary, problems.

“But in order to do this we need to address the failing bureaucratic and legislative system which is long-winded, expensive and completely incomprehensible to most people.

“That is why the CLA has published this report, providing a timely injection of common sense into a network that is clearly not working.”

The Association says that it has concentrated on providing practical solutions in ways which are achievable and which would not undermine existing rights of way.

The Right Way Forward: The CLA’s common sense approach to access in the countryside is available from www.cla.org.uk from February 23.