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Forest access the issue, not ownership, say Ramblers

Posted 27 January 2011
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Forest access the issue, not ownership, say Ramblers
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The Ramblers has said it is not against the sale of Forestry Commission land in principle, but has called on the government to fulfil its five tests for public access to ensure the privatisation of such land does not make it impossible for the public to go walking there.

It has said firstly that public access should be maintained, while its second demand is the maintenance and retention of public rights of way and footpaths.

The body also wants no sale to proceed until the prospective owner has guaranteed to sustain access, while the Countryside Rights of Way Act should be used to secure the right of the public to use such land in cases where this is not already in place.

Finally, it has said local communities should be consulted on the use of woodland and given the first refusal on any purchase.

Controversy has raged over the issue, with groups fearing that the public will not be able to go walking in the forests and may enjoy fewer facilities.

Earlier this week, the British Mountaineering Council expressed concern that while sold-off forest would theoretically retain right-of-way status, this could be legally challenged.
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