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Last Updated: Tuesday, 5 July 2005, 10:45 GMT 11:45 UK
Commons Bill
This bill ensures the local and sustainable management of common land to the benefit of the public and the environment.

Responsible department: Dept for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs
Origin: House of Lords
Introduced: 27 June 2005
Second reading: 20 July 2005
Committee stage: 25 Oct, 1, 2, 9 & 14 Nov 2005
Report stage: 29 & 30 Nov 2005
Third reading: 18 Jan 2006
Consideration of Commons amendments: 17 July 2006
First reading: 19 Jan 2006
Second reading: 18 April 2006
Committee stage: 25 & 27 April 2006
Report stage: 29 June 2006

ROYAL ASSENT: 19 July 2006
  • Existing legislation modernised and simplified so commons can be managed by commoners and landowners working together
  • Commons provided with additional protection against over-grazing, abuse, encroachment and unauthorised development
  • Protection for valuable wildlife habitats and improving public access by enabling "missed" commons to be registered.
  • Corrects wrongly registered land
  • Streamlines the consents system for work and fencing on commons to remove barriers to good land management

    Commons are land owned by one or several persons, over which others have certain rights, such as for grazing.

    The landowner may be a private individual and the people who use the land are common right-holders or "commoners". Both commons and common rights must be registered with local authorities.

    About 3% of the land area of England and 8% of Wales is common land, covering around 400,000 hectares (about 1,500 square miles).

    About half is within the UK's National Parks - including the north Pennines and Dartmoor - and about a third is wholly or partially within Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

    The bill extends to England and Wales only, relating to devolved matters in Wales. Common grazing in Scotland and common land in Northern Ireland are devolved matters to entirely separate legal regimes.

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