Kent County Council restores public access to ancient site

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Congratulations to Kent County Council, the access authority, for going to court to restore forbidden land to the public. The council took Mr John Button, owner of the historic Capel Battery on the clifftop at Capel-le-Ferne, near Folkestone, to the magistrates’ court, after he blocked off public access to the site. The land had been mapped as open access land under the Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000, giving the public the right to walk over it.

The landowner fenced off the site with a six-foot-high barrier, preventing people from walking there. After trying, and failing, to negotiate with the landowner, the council took him to court, which ordered that the obstructions must be removed within 60 days.

Kent County Council is the first access authority to go to court to get illegally-blocked access restored. It sets a fine example to other access authorities.

Local OSS member Angela Godfrey says: ‘‘It’s great that, after we’ve waited patiently for nearly two years, something might be happening to restore our access here. But the campaign isn’t over yet and we shall be keeping a close watch to ensure the barricades really do go.’

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