Threats to green spaces and public paths in farming ‘red tape’ cuts

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We are concerned that the government’s response to the Farming Regulation Task Force report gives no assurance that it will protect our green spaces and public paths.

Says Nicola Hodgson, our case officer: ‘The task force attacked the process for registering land as town or village greens, claiming that there was “a proliferation of inappropriate village green designations” which needed to be addressed. That was a highly subjective view and not based on evidence.

‘What the task force calls “inappropriate” are in fact the green lungs of communities— land which local people have loved and enjoyed for recreation for many years and which qualifies for registration as a green.

‘The government has responded that it “wants to achieve an improved balance between providing protected green space for local communities and reducing the administrative burden on local authorities and landowners”. It consulted on this last year but its proposals moved the balance away from protecting green space and in favour of business and developers.

‘We shall fight any measures which reduce the ability of local people to claim their greens,’ says Nicola.

Adds our general secretary Kate Ashbrook: ‘It is unclear what the government proposes for public paths. We trust it will implement the recommendations of the stakeholder working group, Stepping Forward, for a streamlined process for claiming routes for the official path-maps. But in its response to the task force, government merely says: “We expect to make an announcement on the consultation later this year”.

‘That is not good enough—in 2000 the government decreed that the official map would be closed in 2026 to path claims based on historical evidence. We are nearly halfway through that period, and nothing has been done to speed up the process and ensure paths can be put on the map.

‘In fact the stakeholder group’s recommendations are all about deregulation and cutting red tape— so they should be popular with this government. We want to see the proposals implemented swiftly because they carry immense public benefit.

‘However, if government tries to add measures which would threaten the integrity of our historic path network, such as making it easier to alter the routes of existing paths, we shall fight them all the way,’ says Kate.

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