We are delighted that the Welsh Minister for Natural Resources, Alun Davies, has pledged to introduce electronic registers for all common land in Wales.
He made the announcement on 12 February, undertaking to invest £5 million in the project which will be completed by the end of 2017.
There are 175,000 hectares of common land in Wales, 8.5 per cent of the land area, and commons are important for their contribution to the landscape and biodiversity of Wales, as well as to the hill-farming economy and for public access. The electronic registers will replace the 50-year-old paper registers and will be accurate and accessible.
This is a great step forward for common land in Wales. It will help to raise the profile of commons with the public, as well as ensuring that the information held in the registers is readily accessible and consistent throughout the country.
The power to convert the registers is contained in section 25 of the Commons Act 2006 and it’s a pity that the Westminster government has so far shown no inclination to introduce it in England.