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Rights of Way Act is being ignored.

Byline: KEN UNWIN

Dear Editor, - After the election of May 1997 the new Labour Government confirmed that it would create a right of access to five kinds of countryside; mountain, moorland, heath, down and common.

Although this is still in the process of consultation, we still have footpaths blatantly obstructed by landowners in the West Midlands and in other areas of the country.

As far back as 1994 the Labour Party made the issue of right of access to the countryside party policy at its annual conference. Unfortunately, walking along public rights of way in this area can at times become most frustrating, with footpaths obstructed and ploughed without reinstatement - all contrary to the Highways Act 1980.

Government funding, even after the foot and mouth outbreak - during which walkers upheld the Country Code - has not always been used by local councils as designated and in some cases has been used on the council's own ideologies.

What is the good of these most radical policies of access if the walker is obstructed on these rights of way, which are supposed to be highways and which are ignored by the councils?

The people of Norway, Sweden and Finland have exercised such a right through their countryside for hundreds of years. In this country you are lucky to walk two miles without encountering some form of obstruction against these so called rights of way.

Landowners and farmers as custodians of the countryside, is a farce when one views the destruction they have wrought on Britain's landscape, wildlife and heritage by farming practices over the last half century.

The Rights of Way Act 1990 is not being upheld in many cases and the local councils are breaking the law with complaints only acknowledged with no information given if any action is taken.

Many landowners do not wish to have the public using rights of way and are willing to obstruct these paths, knowing that little or no action will be taken as councils will only in exceptional cases prosecute, through lack of funds made available to them.

If the Government cannot guarantee the public use of these rights of way in the countryside how will it be able to give access to mountain, moorland etc?

KEN UNWIN

Kings Heath,

Birmingham.
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Title Annotation:Letter
Publication:The Birmingham Post (England)
Date:Dec 5, 2003
Words:376
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