Disappointment was expressed today at Anglesey show by the President of NFU Cymru that more land in Wales is potentially going to be included in the open access category.
NFU Cymru President, Ed Bailey said, “Already 20 per cent of Wales is open access land, under the Countryside and Rights of Way (CROW) Act. Many appeals by user groups to add further land have not been upheld by Natural Resources Wales, as the inclusion of those land parcels clearly did not meet the criteria. This however is little consolation to those farmers who will now see more of their land classified potentially as open access land either for the first time or a further extension to land already in.
“Creating more access opportunities without funds to ensure it is managed properly is the worst possible outcome for users, owners and occupiers of the private land that the CROW act allows access to. Poor management of visitors to these areas leads to unnecessary problems for those that farm and manage the land. The more access you have, the less funds you have on an acreage basis to properly manage and control access on these areas.”
Mr Bailey added, “There will now be a three month opportunity for land owners and occupiers to appeal against the designation of their land to the planning inspectorate. Whilst we encourage members to study the maps (which are available on the NRW website) and to consider an appeal, the legislative criteria to take land out of the map is extremely difficult and the odds are stacked against owners and occupiers.”
To conclude, Mr Bailey said, “We ask Natural Resources Wales to take this opportunity to remind users what access to open land actually means. It is for quiet enjoyment by individuals on foot. Dogs must be kept on a lead around livestock (but let go if chased by cattle) and other activities such as camping, motorised activity and cycling etc. are strictly outside what the act allows.”