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Last Updated: Monday, 12 July, 2004, 12:00 GMT 13:00 UK
Head to head: 'Right to roam'
Footpath
New areas of land will start to open from September
A new Countryside Code has been launched to help ease in new "right to roam" laws on open land.

BBC News Online looks at the views of a rambler, who is embracing the new laws, and a farmer who has serious reservations.

PAUL BELL
SPOKESMAN FOR THE RAMBLERS' ASSOCATION

We're really excited that the people of Britain have the chance to enjoy, by definition, some of the wildest and most beautiful landscapes imaginable.

When we're talking about the privacy of landowners being affected, you have to ask what is defined as privacy?

The new legislation makes it clear that land won't be opened up near houses.

People won't have a right to walk across land near people's dwellings.

We don't believe that more people going to the countryside is a bad thing, we think the opposite


Something like seven million people visit the countryside each year, largely for walking and cycling.

There is not a serious problem with litter and other things because the vast majority of people know how to behave.

Problems do occur, people do leave gates open, either by accident or by design, but it's a tiny amount.

We welcome the country code because it's important people know how to enjoy the countryside without inconveniencing anyone else.

There are an estimated 535m walking trips made each year in this country and the spend on those trips is upward of 6bn so this is vital for the economy.

We don't believe that more people going to the countryside is a bad thing, we think the opposite.

Surely we should be encouraging people to visit the countryside not trying to put them off.

RICHARD HADDOCK
FARMER, KINGSWEAR, SOUTH DEVON

My land has the most-used mile-and-a-half of coastal footpath in the UK.

A study by Exeter University estimated that 380,000 a year visit the footpath, so I know all about the problems associated with ramblers.

If a dog fouls in one of my fields then... it's quite possible that E.coli could end up being passed on to my livestock


We have signs up asking people to keep their dogs on leads but I'd say about 50% of dog owners ignore them.

If a dog fouls in one of my fields then, when the grass is turned into silage, it's quite possible that E.coli could end up being passed on to my livestock.

I'd say that 98% of the people that visit don't cause any problems but the other 2% will just walk through my fields to wherever they want.

The problem with the new laws being known as "right to roam" is that it gives the public the perception that they literally can go wherever they like.

I have asked people to leave parts of my private land before and they've said to me 'never mind, because we'll be able to come here when the new law comes in'.

We do want the public to enjoy the countryside.

But I'm very nervous about the impact of the new laws.

I'm worried it will make things worse.



SEE ALSO:
Cautious welcome on right to roam
21 Jan 04 |  Scotland


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