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Action For Access Rally and Walk

May 7, 2011

DOWNLANDERS – ACTION FOR ACCESS EVENTS

Saturday May 14th:  ‘Keep Our Forests Public’ rally and walk in Houghton Forest, near Arundel. Meet noon, Whiteways car park, at North end of Arundel Park – Map ref: TQ 001 108   Join us on a second day of celebration and forest rambling to mark the government’s climb-down from its proposal for the total privatisation of the English Forestry Commission’s estates.

ABOUT ACTION FOR ACCESS

walking and working for a people’s countryside, Downlanders (Action for Access) is a Brighton-based campaign group aiming to highlight access and conservation issues on our local Downs. We regularly organise walks up on the Downs across ‘private’ land.

Our main focus is on Access Land, the areas designated as ‘Open Country‘ by the Countryside Rights of Way Act 2000.

We argue that these places were restricted at the time, both in number and in size, by landowners’ objections and by the opaque and closed process by which Natural England chose them. In Brighton and Hove, for example, only 220 ha of land was designated Open Country, a mere 2.6% of Brighton’s local authority area – and much of this was open to the public already!

What’s more, many of these places remain today practically inaccessible, fenced in with barbed wire and lacking stiles or signs, leaving members of the public to think that they may not walk there. Some are little more than ‘islands’ in the midst of swathes of private property, so that trespassing is the only way to reach them. And still others are being allowed to ‘scrub up’, making them not only utterly impenetrable but also potentially disqualifying them as ‘Open Country’ in the future.

 

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