Latest News

Bullies beware!

October 31, 2019

Through our 154-year history, the Open Spaces Society has developed a proud record of legal action. We fought the enclosures, and defended commoners’ rights; we have tested the law in the courts many times. We have suffered losses, but we also have landmark victories to our name. One such victory was our challenge to Dorset…

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Seventieth Anniversary Of ‘A People’s Charter’

January 1, 2019

This year we celebrate the seventieth anniversary of the National Parks and Access to the Countryside Act 1949.  Our general secretary Kate Ashbrook, explains what it achieved. This is not just a Bill.  It is a people’s charter—a people’s charter for the open air, for the hikers and the ramblers, for everyone who lives to…

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Our local correspondents gather in the Lickey Hills

August 23, 2018

Over two days in mid August, 29 local correspondents, trustees and members of staff met at the Hillscourt conference centre, Rednall, on the edge of the Lickey Hills country park south-west of Birmingham.  It was an opportunity to swap experiences and ideas and to learn more about the range of activities in which the society…

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Government’s planning charter fails to protect open spaces

July 26, 2018

We are dismayed that the revised Natural Planning Policy Framework (NPPF), which was published on 24 July, gives no additional protection to open spaces, beyond a tiny improvement in wording. The society had objected in the draft to the restrictive wording accompanying the designation of land as local green space (LGS).  The draft stated that…

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Countryside Act at 50

July 3, 2018

On 3 July we celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of the Countryside Act 1968, an important piece of legislation.  The Open Spaces Society, with the Ramblers, played a major role in its genesis.  Our general secretary, Kate Ashbrook, explains its history and significance. The National Parks and Access to the Countryside Act 1949, which led to…

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What tragedy?

June 29, 2018

This year is the fiftieth anniversary of an influential article which, wrongly, gave commons a bad name. In 1968 Science magazine published a paper called ‘The tragedy of the commons’ by biologist Garrett Hardin. Our general secretary, Kate Ashbrook, explains. This was about the global population problem, in part inspired by an 1833 pamphlet by…

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Jerry Pearlman: fighter for commons and paths

March 22, 2018

Our world of paths and commons would be very different but for the work of Jerry Pearlman who has died aged 84 on 9 March 2018, writes our general secretary. Jerry was honorary solicitor for the Ramblers for more than 30 years; he took on countless path battles and campaigned for freedom to roam on…

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The government’s 25-year plan for the environment

January 12, 2018

We are pleased that the government has at last published its 25-year plan for the environment.  It has many fine ambitions, which we applaud, and now we should like to hear more about how the government intends to achieve them.  And of course we are willing to help. Green spaces We particularly welcome the aims…

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Roxlena: Long use and the 2001 foot-and-mouth disease outbreak

December 14, 2017

Cumbria County Council has successfully defended in the High Court [Roxlena Ltd, R (On the Application Of) v Cumbria County Council], its decision to make a definitive map modification order (DMMO) for paths in Hayton Woods, east of Carlisle, in response to an application previously made by local people on the basis of long use…

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Paths to oblivion

November 13, 2017

Thirty years ago (3 September 1987) we were present at the launch of the Countryside Commission’s far-reaching policies and priorities for enjoying the countryside, writes our general secretary, Kate Ashbrook. Top priority was to have the entire rights-of-way network ‘legally defined, maintained and available for use before the end of the [last] century’ with up-to-date…

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