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‘It is astonishing that the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) failed to mention common land in its recent White Paper, The Natural Choice: securing the value of nature. Common land uniquely provides a wealth of public benefits, for wildlife, landscape, history, archaeology and enjoyment.’
So said Paul Clayden, our vice-president, opening our annual general meeting on Tuesday 5 July.
‘The White Paper is all about the value of nature. On common land, our natural resources are likely to be better protected and enjoyed than elsewhere, because commons have remained largely undisturbed through history, and the public has the right to walk on all and to ride on some.
‘So it is extraordinary that commons get no mention from Defra. And yet there is a great deal of unfinished business.
‘Defra and the Welsh Government have failed fully to implement part 1 of the Commons Act 2006, now nearly five years old, which enables people to apply for “lost commons” to be included on the common-land registers, giving public access to these areas and securing their protection. In England, this provision has been implemented in only seven areas, in Wales it hasn’t been implemented at all.
‘This is now a matter of urgency, and I hope that, at the society’s annual general meeting next year, I can report that the arrangements for rescuing lost commons are fully up and running throughout England and Wales,’ Paul concluded.