The right of access to open countryside: thirty-second report of session 2006-07, report, together with formal minutes, oral and written evidence

The Countryside Rights of Way Act 2000 introduced a public right to walk across designated mountain, moor, heath, downs and registered common land in England. DEFRA tasked the Countryside Agency with opening-up the new access by the end of 2005, and the target was met with two months to spare. However the implementation of the right to roam cost the Countryside Agency £24.6 million more than anticipated, with knock-on impacts on other programmes. This report looks at the implementation of open access and the effect of the policy under the headings: encouraging the public to use the right to roam across the countryside; protecting the environment of access land and the rights of landowners; improving planning and project management. However the success of legislation is as yet unknown because there is no information on the extent to which the public are making use of their new right. In October 2006 the responsibility for open access passed from the Countryside Agency to Natural England.

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