We have urged Natural Resources Wales (NRW) to champion common land and to oppose government plans to weaken the law protecting village greens. The society has responded to NRW’s consultation, Planning our Future.
We are concerned that nowhere in the document is there a mention of common land and its crucial role in securing a good environment. Commons are of exceptional public importance; they have remained undisturbed through history, have a rich biodiversity and provide unspoiled, inspirational landscapes.
We are also concerned that there is no mention of the importance of Wales’s fine landscapes and the role of national parks and areas of outstanding natural beauty to the diverse scenery of Wales, and their contribution to the rural economy.
We have urged NRW to oppose the Welsh Government’s proposals, in its draft Planning Bill, to amend the law so as to prevent people from applying to register land as a town or village green if it has already been earmarked for development. Contrary to NRW’s aim of providing and enabling recreation and access opportunities, this law would severely reduce recreation and access opportunities close to people’s homes.
We have also called on NRW to give the public the right to walk, and preferably also to ride, on all the land it owns. NRW can do this under section 16 of the Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000. This would set an excellent example to other landowners.
We trust that NRW will act independently of the Welsh Government, not only advising it but also being prepared to criticise and disagree with it where necessary.
We are keen to meet NRW board members and staff to discuss our mutual interests and to offer any advice we can from our 149 years of campaigning for commons, greens, open spaces and paths, throughout England and Wales.