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We have urged the Welsh Government to require that landowners and occupiers who receive agri-environment funding keep the public paths on their land in good order. The society was responding to the government’s consultation on Common Agricultural Policy reform and cross-compliance.
We have said that owners or occupiers who receive public funds for the management of their land should be required to obey the law on public paths. If they allow paths to become blocked or cropped, they should relinquish their funding under the rules of cross-compliance. This is already the case in England and we believe it should apply in Wales too.
The Welsh Government seems to be procrastinating by saying that the official (definitive) maps of rights of way should be standardised and digitised before cross-compliance is introduced. But improvement of the maps is a separate issue and should not be used as an excuse to delay cross-compliance on public paths.
Public paths are widely recognised as being invaluable to promoting the health of the nation, and providing income to rural communities, and it is essential that they are in good order, open and welcoming. If they are included in the requirements for cross-compliance, it will assist local authorities in their task of getting paths opened up and well maintained.