Document Sample
 A Practical Management Guide to the Implementation of Access to Open
                  Country & Registered Common Land

    A report presented by the Bowland Open Access Steering Group offering
                  Practical Management and Policy Guidance

         Part of an Integrated Access Demonstration Project in Lancashire
  Conducted by Lancashire County Council’s Countryside Service supported by the
                                Countryside Agency

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Links for further information about Access
Management, restrictions and public liability Countryside Agency Report on
increasing access to the wider countryside for disabled people information about
Lancashire Local Access Forum Information about the AONB Rural Transport Programme


Nick Osborne
Tarja Wilson
Ian Hart

Tel: 01772 534709

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1.   Introduction                                                                      1
2.   Identification Criteria for the Pilot Area                                        2
3.   Steering Group Selection Criteria                                                 3
4.   Summary                                                                           4
5.   Pilot Project: Key Stages                                                         5

a.   Access Provision                                                                  5
     1. Mapping of Proposed Access and Information Locations                           5
     2. Delineation of Open Country and Registered Common Land                        10
     3. Managing Desire Lines                                                         12
     4. Design, Maintenance and Costs                                                 13
     5. All Ability Moorland Experience Practical Project                             15
     6. Links to the Rights of Way Improvement Plan                                   17

b.   Public Information and Interpretation                                            18
     1. Access Point and Car Park Information                                         18
     2. Proposed Public Information Systems: Opportunities to                         19
         Inform and Educate

c.   Visitor Management                                                               22
     1. Current Ranger Service Levels                                                 22
     2. Considerations for Expansion to Include New Access Land                       23
     3. Joint Service Provision                                                       25

d.   Transport Issues                                                                 28
     1. Management of Lay-by Parking                                                  28
     2. Farm Car Parks                                                                29
     3. Rural Transport Programmes                                                    30

e.   Management of Exclusions and Restrictions                                        33
     1. Requested Exclusions and Restrictions                                         33
     2. Investigating the Need for Further Byelaws                                    36

f.   Conservation Provision                                                           37
     Management Measures to Mitigate Effects to the Bowland Fells Special
     Protection Area {SPA} & Site of Special Scientific Interest {SSSI}

     A. Area Map                                                                      43
     B. Nature Conservation Review and Assessment                                     44
     C. The Pendle Hill Advisory Group                                                45
     D. Farmers’ Discussion Meeting                                                   46
     E. Section 35 Draft Agreement                                                    47
     F. Glossary of Terms                                                             53

6.   Management Guide

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1.   Introduction

     The Countryside and Rights of Way legislation (CRoW Act 2000) will give greater
     freedom for people to explore open countryside and bring a new impetus and a fresh
     approach to managing countryside access. The wider public benefits would include
     expanding people’s choice of places to visit the countryside, helping people enjoy
     countryside walking, and may contribute to improving rural economies.

     The Countryside Agency has set up Integrated Demonstration Access Projects
     (IADPs) to investigate how an integrated approach will deliver more and improved
     access to the countryside as well as the wider social and economic benefits.

     At the forefront of new legislation is access to Open Country and Registered
     Common land, the Bowland Open Access Pilot Project has sought to deal with a
     range of issues in an effort to determine regional and national best practice.

     Officers from Lancashire Countryside Service sought the views of landowners, user
     groups and conservation interests, the result of which saw the formation of a steering
     group and key stage action plan. It must be noted that the Bowland AONB has for
     some years exhibited successful working partnerships bound within existing
     management structures and headed by the Joint Advisory Council. There has been
     considerable achievement in recent years to negotiate existing open access areas
     and access strips by Lancashire County Council.

     The steering group consists of those with landowning, conservation and recreational
     interests in the land. The Pilot Project was progressed as a series of Steering Group
     meetings held over the two calendar years of 2002 and 2003, and by individual
     research or practical projects.

     As the project developed in this Pilot Area other regions of Lancashire began to adopt
     the same practices with respect to provisional CRoW Access Land. Some elements
     of this report therefore reflect a wider County approach in readiness for
     commencement of open access.

     The overriding aim of the report is to offer:

     A Practical Management Guide to the Implementation of Access to Open Country
     and Registered Common Land.

     The content of this document seeks to report and inform on key stage meetings
     particularly in relation to:

     •    The formation of a logical and progressive guide offering practical management
          and policy proposals, confirmation of legislation and guidance notes, questions
          raised, investigations undertaken, conclusions reached, consensus gained and
          opportunities to develop.

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2.      Identification Criteria for the Pilot Area

        Key to the project is the selection and definition of an area of land. Officers,
        landowners and user group representatives met to agree on the location and
        boundaries of a proposed parcel of land for the purposes of this project1.

        It was agreed that an area chosen should already possess certain attributes thereby
        qualifying it as suitable to test the broad range of legislation within this pilot

        Attributes required in selection of the area include:

        •     Land that is provisionally mapped as ‘Open Country’ and ‘Registered Common
              Land’ and areas already offering existing access agreements.
        •     An area of moorland and associated in-bye land.
              o    A landscape character type already attracting significant visitor numbers,
                   particularly to access a viewpoint, reach defined promontories and for a
                   wilderness experience.
              o    The area chosen is an area of moorland and associated in-bye land that
                   straddles the Abbeystead, Mallowdale shooting/farming estates, and lies
                   within The Forest of Bowland Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty {AONB}.
        •     Areas of existing access agreements (Section 15 land).
              o    Steering group members already have experience of dealing with issues
                   related to existing open access agreements. It was thought useful to bring
                   existing experience of open access to compare with new proposals.
        •     Land with issues relating to the integration of access/conservation/land
              o    The area is of particular interest to English Nature, supporting an
                   internationally important Special Protection Area {SPA} and Site of Special
                   Scientific Interest {SSSI} in relation to species and habitats.
        •     Land with a mix of shooting and agricultural tenants.
        •     Areas of owner occupied land.
        •     Public Highway access to parts of the area.

        Essentially the boundaries reflect public vehicular highways and are consistent with
        locations most likely to be under pressure from private vehicles and visitors seeking
        easy access onto open country land.

     Appendix A, Annotated Area Map.
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3.   Steering Group Selection Criteria

     An initial meeting was held between land agents and managers for the
     shooting/farming estates and Lancashire County Council {LCC} Countryside Service
     staff to agree the membership of the Steering Group and aims and objectives of the

     It was felt that although the span of interests should be represented the proposed
     Steering Group should be numerically small offering a greater chance of focused
     debate and general manageability. Agreement was reached to include the following
     constituent interests:

     •    Land Owners
     •    Land Agents
     •    Tenant/Commoner
     •    Lancashire Countryside Service
          o   Countryside Ranger
          o   Countryside Officers
     •    User Groups Representative
          o   North West Federation for Sport, Recreation and Conservation
     •    Conservation Interests
          o   English Nature

     Following the forwarding of meeting minutes to the Lancashire Local Access Forum, it
     was agreed that the Chairman and an independent member attend subsequent
     meetings. This greatly improved communication and information exchange between
     the two groups.

     On occasion, other specialists were invited to assist with specific areas of work,

     •    LCC Highways Area Surveyor
     •    Upland Footpath Specialist
     •    Rural Transport Co-ordinator

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4.   Summary

     This report aims to set guidelines for implementing access to CRoW Access Land on
     moorland areas of high recreational, conservation, agricultural and sporting values.

     The formation of a Steering Group reflecting such values and the subsequent
     debates based on new legislation have led to broad based consensus across a range
     of issues.

     Issues discussed resulted in the formation of a series of five broad themes (key
     stages) the details of which were progressed over meetings spanning the years

     The body of this report details each theme and attendant issue and deals with
     associated legislation, followed by discussions and agreements reached concluding
     with practical management and, or policy proposals.

     There are eight policy proposals, some present very specific requirements whilst
     others are more broadly based. Each proposal defines roles and responsibilities and
     offer a way forward to implement new legislation.

     A further key aspect of this report offers a management guide to planning, resources,
     techniques and costs required to practically implement open access on the ground.

     It is intended that Key Stages A to F form the basis of the theoretical and legislative
     aspects of open access and help the formation of the Management Guide
     {Chapter 6}.

     It is clear that there are many opportunities for continued joint working between
     public, private, volunteer and charitable bodies. This would appear to present an
     effective way of managing open access. Indeed, the evidence from this Steering
     Group has shown that despite differing land interests, all parties are drawn by a
     concern for the continued values of landscapes, habitats and species and it is from
     these overarching values that the process of reaching consensus can begin.

     Members of this Steering Group intend to continue meeting periodically both to offer
     guidance and proposals to the Local Access Forum/Access Authority, and to
     communicate the practical implementation of open access through associated
     public/private field staff.

     It is intended that within Lancashire County Council the policy proposals from this
     report will be presented to the Lancashire Local Access Forum for a period of
     consultation prior to formal adoption by the Access Authority.

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