Latest News

We criticise sinister Police Bill

March 15, 2021

Along with 250 other organisations, we have signed an open letter to the Home Secretary and Justice Secretary calling on government to rethink the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill which has its second reading on 15 and 16 March, having been introduced to parliament only days before. The bill creates numerous new criminal offences,…

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View across Chesham Bois Common, Buckinghamshire

Chesham Bois Common saved from degradation

March 9, 2021

We are delighted that a damaging plan to create a tarmac, vehicular accessway on Chesham Bois Common in the Buckinghamshire Chilterns has been withdrawn in the face of objections. Last year St Leonard’s Church Parochial Church Council applied for planning permission for an accessway to the parish centre as part of a larger development comprising…

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EU protection for Welsh commons

February 23, 2021

At the last minute before Brexit was completed the Welsh Government followed the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs in applying environmental impact assessment (EIA) regulations to common land. This means that if a development proposal affecting a Welsh common is likely to have a significant effect on the environment, it must be assessed…

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Long Mynd, Shropshire Hills

Celebrating upland commons

February 16, 2021

Thanks to National Lottery players some of our best loved places in the uplands of England will be better looked after.  A partnership of 24 organisations, including the society, will empower those who graze common land, the commoners, to manage them better to restore peat, create habitats for birds and butterflies, and improve the quality…

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The Villagers, about two years ago, with the entrance to the car park. Photo: Peter Trimming, Creative Commons Licence.

We help to save Surrey common from enclosure

February 15, 2021

The Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs has refused consent to the Hon Peter Herbert for fencing and a gate across part of Blackheath Common in Surrey.  Blackheath is four miles south-east of Guildford in the Surrey Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. Peter Herbert, lord of the manor, wanted to erect…

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Port Meadow, Oxfordshire

Hook Norton learns about common land

February 11, 2021

‘Common land is frequently misunderstood.’  So declared our commons re-registration officer, Frances Kerner, who gave an illustrated online talk ‘What is Common Land?’ to the Hook Norton Local History Group in north Oxfordshire on 2 February. ‘The word “common” does not mean that the land is commonly owned.  Like all land in England and Wales…

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Open Spaces Society’s new watchdog in Teignbridge, Devon

February 11, 2021

We have appointed Nicholas Whitsun-Jones as its local correspondent for the Teignbridge district in Devon. Nicholas will be the society’s guardian in the area of Teignbridge District Council (including part of the Dartmoor National Park), keeping a close watch on paths, commons, greens and open spaces. Nicholas was in the legal profession for 45 years,…

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Our new watchdog in the West Midlands

January 26, 2021

We have appointed Jack Jennings as our local correspondent for Sutton Coldfield and North Warwickshire. Jack will act for the society in keeping a close watch on paths, commons, greens and open spaces in his area and defending them from adverse change. Jack has lived in Sutton Coldfield for much of his life, and has…

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Statement on criminal trespass

January 19, 2021

We have joined with eight other organisations in a letter to the Home Secretary, condemning plans to make trespass a criminal offence.  Our letter comes ahead of the publication of the government’s Police Powers and Protections Bill which will enact the Conservative Party’s manifesto commitment to ‘make intentional trespass a criminal offence’. The society has expressed…

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Our last-minute bid to rescue lost commons

January 4, 2021

We have made 78 applications to rescue lost commons in England’s seven pioneer areas[1]  before the deadline of 31 December 2020. The applications are to register these precious spaces as common land.  If successful, they will give the public the right to walk, and in some cases to ride, on the land and will protect…

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