HC Deb 28 June 1965 vol 715 cc9-10
17. Mr. Blenkinsop

asked the Minister of Land and Natural Resources whether he will make a statement on the progress made in establishing long-distance footpaths, other than the Pennine Way.

Mr. Willey

Nine long-distance routes, other than the Pennine Way, have been approved and are in course of negotiation. The nine routes involve a total of 1,023 miles and 134 local authorities. New rights of way for which negotiations are not yet completed total 135 miles; they vary from a few yards to 15 miles of pathway.

The National Parks Commission is also considering proposals for two new long-distance routes.

Mr. Blenkinsop

While welcoming my right hon. Friend's statement, may I ask whether he is aware that while the routes have been generally approved, the negotiations take an appalling length of time? Has he any suggestion to make as to how these negotiations can be speeded up?

Mr. Willey

I am aware of the recommendations made in the Reports of the National Parks Commission. These we are considering in the light of our review of the 1949 Act.

Mr. Ramsden

As these long-distance paths—this applies also to part of the Pennine Way—may often go along disused railway tracks where the lines have been pulled up, could the right hon. Gentleman liaise with the railway authorities and the Minister of Transport and try to see that the bridges are not always destroyed when the lines are pulled up? These tracks often have amenity possibilities and the bridges are necessary.

Mr. Willey

I am obliged to the right hon. Gentleman for calling my attention to this matter. I have been considering the use of disused railways as green paths, and certainly the point that he has made is one that we shall consider.

Sir Knox Cunningham

Has the right hon. Gentleman consulted the Secretary of State for Scotland, and are there plans for these paths in Scotland?

Mr. Willey

This does not affect Scotland.

Mr. Manuel

Will my right hon. Friend say whether he protects rights of way where there is possible development along a portion of long-distance paths—say, forestry development?

Mr. Willey

That is certainly a matter which I will consider.