THE HISTORY OF THE ACCESS MOVEMENT IN BRITAIN

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jmmoxon
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THE HISTORY OF THE ACCESS MOVEMENT IN BRITAIN

Post by jmmoxon » Tue May 12, 2009 8:11 pm

A statutory right of access to open country and registered
common land, as provided under the Countryside
and Rights of Way Act 2000 (CRoW), was introduced
in a programme involving a regional roll-out in England
and single-stage implementation in Wales, all of which
concluded in October 2005. For those involved
in the implementation of the Act, the signing of the
final Ministerial Order represented the culmination
of over 5 years’ work. However, from the ramblers’
perspective, this event may be seen as just one significant
milestone after more than a century of struggle.
Initial efforts to introduce a right of access within
the UK had focused on uplands and watercourses. An
Access to Mountains (Scotland) Bill was unsuccessfully
advanced as a private member’s bill in 1884,
1888 and 1892. In 1888 an attempt was also made
to introduce a right of access to mountains and rivers
in Wales.
Despite these failures by 1892 the Government
accepted in principle the need for legislation
for ‘securing the right of the public to enjoy free access
to uncultivated mountains and moorlands, especially
in Scotland, subject to proper provisions for preventing
any abuse of such right’. A Government-sponsored
Bill received its first reading in the same year, but the
same Government fell at the general election and
no further progress was made. More unsuccessful
private members’ bills, including one relating specifically
to England, came before Parliament in 1898,
1900, 1908 and 1909 (Shoard 1999).
The frustration of further abortive parliamentary
efforts in the 1930s fuelled a popular movement
prepared to take direct action to achieve its ends. This
agitation was focused on the Derbyshire Pennines,
where working people from the conurbations of
Leeds, Sheffield and Manchester found themselves
excluded from moorland where they had previously
sought air and exercise. It is significant that the more
militant demand for access had working class origins,
contrasting with the higher social status of the
majority of countryside visitors today. The fact that
some of the moors fell within the estates of the
very owners of the mills where many walkers were
employed exacerbated these social divisions.
In April 1932 a mass trespass was organized at
Kinder Scout, and 400 people spread across the moors,
encountering gamekeepers armed with sticks, one of
whom was knocked unconscious (The Guardian 1932).
Although six trespassers faced prison sentences of up
to 6 months, solidarity within the movement strengthened,
and 2 months later 10 000 people gathered
at Winnats Pass in support of an Access to Mountains
Bill (Shoard 1999). The Ramblers’ Association was
spawned in 1935, in the aftermath of these uprisings,
and became a politically adept and highly influential
organization campaigning for increased access.
Despite the momentum, and the strength of conviction,
it was not until after the World War II that
legislation provided any significant progress, with
The National Parks and Access to the Countryside
Act (UK Parliament 1949). Outside the Parks this
focused very much on rights of way.
During the 1960s access issues gained renewed
media and political attention, alongside increasing
demand for countryside recreation and cases of high
profile obstruction. In 1969 a review of access provision
was announced. Although this initiative fell at
the 1970 election, public attitudes to the countryside
were gradually changing, alongside awareness that
intensive agriculture was placing a major burden on
taxpayers in the form of vast food surpluses (‘grain
mountains’), coupled with consequential losses of
traditional landscapes and wildlife. During the last
quarter of the 20th century, the political and social
climate driving the provision of access had progressed
significantly from its 19th century class-ridden origins.
The importance of biodiversity, value of recreation
to health and well-being, the call for reform of
the Common Agricultural Policy, and the increased
emphasis on social inclusion all became central to the
countryside debate. Perceptions of the link between
public funding and public benefit gained momentum,
and access provision and conservation were seen
as potential returns on national investment. Initial
effort to secure statutory rights of access was focused
on common land and the 1986 Common Land Forum
suggested a number of measures concerning the
management and protection of common land, including
provision of a right of access, hence reiterating
proposals first mooted some 30 years earlier. However,
the 1995 Rural White Paper ruled out new
legislation, and it was only following further political
change in 1997 that the ground was set for major
reform.
THE COUNTRYSIDE AND RIGHTS OF WAY ACT 2000
In 1998 the Government issued, Access to the Open
Countryside in England and Wales, a consultation
paper inviting views on statutory and voluntary
mechanisms to secure more and better access to open
countryside, setting out the key criteria of extent,
quality, permanence, cost, clarity, certainty, monitoring
and enforcement (DETR 1998). Among 2000
responses a majority supported a statutory approach.
An intention to legislate was announced in 1999. It
had taken nearly 70 years from the mass trespasses
of the 1930s for the proposed right of access to come
before Parliament. Although the political climate
had transformed substantially, these movements
remained a potent symbol of oppression throughout
the whole of this period.
The old political divisions resurfaced significantly
during the passage of the Countryside and Rights of
Way Bill in 2000. The Government claimed the
Bill was ‘The most significant piece of legislation
in 50 years and marking the pinnacle of a 116-year
campaign by countryside lovers everywhere’ (House
of Commons Hansard 2000a), and ‘… an historic Bill
… fulfilling the yearnings of the British people … for
full rights of access to the beauties of the countryside’
(House of Commons Hansard 2000b). In contrast
the opposition benches contended that the Bill ‘is
based on that most ignoble of human traits – envy’
(House of Commons Hansard 2000c) ‘… and is antilandowner,
anti-property, anti-privacy … dragged down
by anti-farmer ideology, ignorance of the workings of
the countryside, and sheer risible incompetence’
(House of Commons Hansard 2000d). Hence Parliament
divided on class lines, with supporters echoing
traditional revolutionary slogans that the Bill would
open the privileges of the few to the delights of the
many.

From: Political and social drivers for access to
the countryside: the need for research on birds
and recreational disturbance
GRAHAM BATHE in IBIS magazine
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quicky
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Re: THE HISTORY OF THE ACCESS MOVEMENT IN BRITAIN

Post by quicky » Wed May 13, 2009 1:40 pm

It’s the argument used all the time… many things exist in statute and in law to say access should be given to canoes…. They won’t budge though..
__________________________________________________________________________________________
Sorry this is so long
__________________________________________________________________________________________

Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs
Environment Act 1995 Water Industry Act 1991
Code of Practice on Conservation, Access and Recreation:
Guidance for the Environment Agency and Water and Sewerage Undertakers
________________________________________
4. ACCESS
4.1 The relevant bodies have a statutory duty, in formulating or considering any proposals relating to their functions, to have regard to the desirability of preserving public access to places of natural beauty - including areas of woodland, mountains, moor, heath, down, cliff or foreshore - and to buildings, sites and objects of archaeological, architectural or historic interest and to take into account the effect which the proposals would have on public access. These duties apply to their own land and to areas in which they exercise their functions.

4.2 Land and water owned or controlled by the relevant bodies offers a unique resource for a wide range of recreation activities. The relevant bodies should normally allow freedom of access to all land and water of natural beauty, amenity or recreational value. Access should be considered for the widest possible range of activities. The relevant bodies should be aware of the Government's intention to legislate during 2000 to give people a statutory right of access over open countryside and to improve the network of public rights of way, especially for equestrians and cyclists. Wherever possible they should provide access by means of marked paths for walkers and, where appropriate, for other users, including equestrians and cyclists. The relevant bodies should also consider the formal dedication of permitted paths.

4.3 Access to land and water should be allowed provided that there is no significant danger to public health and safety, risk of pollution or damage, or harmful impact on wildlife. If access is not possible, public notices should normally be displayed explaining why.

4.4 Access should similarly be granted to archaeological monuments and buildings of historic and architectural interest and could be facilitated by:
• signposting of sites in areas with public access or close to rights of way
• creation of heritage trails, if appropriate in conjunction with wildlife interests
• creation of formal displays or museums or holding open days
• provision of facilities for specialists to study objects, machinery or documents either directly or through loans to libraries or museums.

4.5 Monitoring the impact of visitors and recreational uses can give an indication of what a site can support without long term damage. The relevant bodies should consider ways in which sustainable access can be promoted.

4.6 Access should normally only be withdrawn for operational, health and safety or conservation reasons. Closure should usually be for a limited period and kept under review. The relevant bodies should display public notices to this effect. Where there are proposals that would restrict or remove existing access, the relevant bodies should consult interested parties at an early stage. Where termination of access is unavoidable, alternative provision should be made unless evidence is provided that there is no need for such provision. The relevant bodies should be aware that they can divert or extinguish statutory rights of way only by using their powers under Schedule 11 of the Water Industry Act 1991 or Schedule 19 of the Water Resources Act 1991. Local authorities have powers to do so under the Highways Act 1980 or the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 (see also paragraph 7.35).

4.7 Care should be taken in using herbicides on land or for aquatic plant control. Notices should be displayed to warn the public where such spraying has taken place. The Health and Safety Commission has published an Approved Code of Practice on the Safe Use of Pesticides for Non-Agricultural Purposes.

4.8 In determining any type of public access, the relevant bodies must bear in mind the needs of disabled people and, in particular, the legal obligations on service providers specified in the Disability Discrimination Act 1995 (see paragraphs 7.55 to 7.57). They should seek to facilitate access for disabled people and to avoid creating obstacles to access.

________________________________________________________________________________________

Additional information as promised and there is also the Environment Act of 1995 too..


National Parks Act 1949

At the Labour Party Conference Rt Hon Hilary Benn Sec of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs stood up and spoke about carbon emissions etc. He then went on to say that in 2009 we will be celebrating 60 years since the National Parks Act.. Hilary Benn stated “ As he was taking the Bill though Parliament, Lewis Silkin famously said

“Now at last we shall be able to see that the mountains.. moors.. dales.. and tors belong to the people as a right not as a concession. This is not just a Bill. It is a people’s charter…With it the countryside is theirs to preserve, to cherish, to enjoy and to make their own.”

This belief has helped us to open up the countryside – land shaped and cared for by the people who live and work there.
…………… we now see what happens when we take the earth’s resources for granted and we now understand that we must value its gifts and share them fairly.”

For information –

The ref to the National Parks and Access to the Countryside Act 1949 is an extract from Hansard so that must be correct. Section V of the Act appears in part 1, Chapter1 Section 15 of CRoW Act 2000.
A charter for access to inland waters? Yes, there is provision for access to waterways and the waterside included in the National Parks and Access to the Countryside Act 1949 part V. This has been specifically retained to be included in the Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000 and remains on the statue book. From the time when the CRoW Act 2000 was debated, Hansard records the government stating retaining Part V “will allow access agreements and order to continue to be made on waterways and the waterside. Such agreements can make specific provision for canoes”….to the best of our knowledge no national park has used this section of the Act to give access. Even after 60 years!!!

The following report again needs to be highlighted to show that basically they were saying that there were existing rights of navigation on rivers and canals sufficient to make it unnecessary to take any further action to improve public access. This could also be used as an additional lever.
THE HOBHOUSE REPORT, 1947.

This Report ("Footpaths and Access to the Countryside", Report of the Special Committee, September 1947, Cmd 7207) was commissioned by the National Parks Committee in 1946 to consider the need for eg new rights of way on both land and water.

Chapter 12 dealt with "Beach, Shore and Inland Waters" and included the following:
‘213 ... On non-tidal waters rights of navigation, where they exist, arise in the same way as rights of way on land - by dedication or by statutory creation. Such rights of navigation cannot, as in the case of rights of way on land, be restricted to any specified path. Generally rights of navigation exist on rivers up to some point governed by long standing custom or prescription. On canals rights of navigation depend on statute or regulation and are limited to prescribed craft. It is unusual to find any general right of navigation on lakes. ...
215 Rivers and canals are by their nature primarily a means of passage and we have not the necessary evidence, nor do we consider it appropriate in this Report, to examine the complex question of the law of navigation in relation to them. Moreover on rivers and canals existing rights or customs of navigation may be largely sufficient to meet the present public need, We do not therefore recommend that planning authorities should have the power to designate for public access rivers and canals.’

Jon Wood
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Re: THE HISTORY OF THE ACCESS MOVEMENT IN BRITAIN

Post by Jon Wood » Wed May 13, 2009 3:00 pm

This just arrived:
http://www.number10.gov.uk/Page19264

All I have to contribute right now is "tossers"


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peakfreak
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Re: THE HISTORY OF THE ACCESS MOVEMENT IN BRITAIN

Post by peakfreak » Wed May 13, 2009 5:24 pm

quicky wrote:...Blah dee blah...
4.3 Access to land and water should be allowed provided that there is no significant danger to public health and safety, risk of pollution or damage, or harmful impact on wildlife. If access is not possible, public notices should normally be displayed explaining why.
...more blah dee blah...
Does this clause not give us the right of access untill deemed otherwise? That's how it seems to me or am I missunderstanding the wording. How I read that is as long as there is no threat to life or limb, so to speak, then access is fine. If it is unclear then surely that is our get out clause until such time as clarity is defined.
Just curious as either way I will continue to paddle in my usual responsible way, ensuring I am considerate to other river users and the environment.

jmmoxon
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Re: THE HISTORY OF THE ACCESS MOVEMENT IN BRITAIN

Post by jmmoxon » Wed May 13, 2009 11:24 pm

Does this clause not give us the right of access untill deemed otherwise?
The document only refers to waters controlled by
Environment Agency and Water and Sewerage Undertakers
Mike
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