Common land reclaimed at St Just, Cornwall

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More than 100 hectares of common land at Carn Kenidjack, north of St Just in Penwith, Cornwall, have been reclaimed as registered common land, using legislation which is being pioneered in Cornwall (part 1 of the Commons Act 2006).

Photo: Ian McNeil Cooke

Photo: Ian McNeil Cooke

Following a public inquiry in September, planning inspector Martin Elliott ruled that the land should be recorded on the commons register.

The application site includes Carnyorth, Botallack and Truthwall Commons and is open heather moorland. It is in the Cornwall Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, the Cornish Mining World Heritage Site and is currently being surveyed by Natural England as a site of special scientific interest. The area is also extremely rich in archaeology with stone circles, holed stones and Bronze Age field systems, barrows and cairns.

The common was recorded as access land under the Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000, giving the public the right to walk over it.

The land belongs to the Tregothanan Estates and other landowners who objected to the registration as common.

The applicant, Mr Ian McNeil Cooke on behalf of Save Penwith Moors, argued that the land was part of a manor. It was still open, uncultivated and unoccupied. Therefore it complied with the criteria to enable it to be registered as common land.

Photo: Ian McNeil Cooke

Photo: Ian McNeil Cooke

The Open Spaces Society, Cornwall Countryside Access Forum and Cornwall Council were among the supporters. The objections related to the management of the land for grazing and were in the main held not to be relevant. The inspector excluded five areas from the registration unit and confirmed the rest.

Says David Coles of Save Penwith Moors, which campaigns to keep commons open and free: ‘We are delighted to have returned this land to the commons register, from which it was wrongly omitted 40 years ago. This will ensure that the public’s rights to use and enjoy it are safeguarded for all time, and that the land has additional protection from development, since any works here will need the consent of the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, in addition to any planning permission.’

Adds Nicola Hodgson, our case officer: ‘We urge everyone with an interest in common land to follow the excellent example of Save Penwith Moors. They should research whether there is land in Cornwall and the other pioneer areas which was wrongly omitted from registration 40 years ago, and which is eligible for registration now. The Open Spaces Society can help with the process.’

The Open Spaces Society, with the Foundation for Common Land and many other organisations, is pressing Defra to implement part 1 of the Commons Act 2006 throughout England so that all the registers can be corrected.

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