§ 1. Mr. Murray
asked the Minister of Housing and Local Government what progress has been made in establishing long-distance routes under the National Parks and Access to the Countryside Act 1949.
§ The Joint Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Housing and Local Government (Mr. Arthur Skeffington)
Proposals for ten long-distance routes have been approved involving a total of 1,273 miles, of which rights over approximately 1,200 miles are already established. The Pennine Way was completed in 1965; the Yorkshire Coast and North York Moors Path (widely known as the Cleveland Way) is very nearly complete and will be opened in May. Good progress is being made with the walks round the South-west Peninsular and the route along Offa's Dyke.
§ Mr. Murray
I congratulate my hon. Friend on being on the right footpath. How much remains to be done on the other eight approved routes? What new long-distance routes is the Countryside Commission planning?
§ Mr. Skeffington
I am glad to say that very few remaining miles of rights of way have still to be negotiated—I think four or five miles in one or two cases. We hope that this will soon be complete. The Commission has already submitted a report on the North Downs Way, which will cover a distance of 141 miles from Farnham in Surrey to Dover in Kent. The Commission is also actively considering proposals for the Ridge Way Walk which will go from Cambridge to Seaton Bay by way of the Chilterns and the Berkshire Ridge Way.
§ Mr. Blenkinsop
Does my hon. Friend accept that we have been waiting for 16 years to get some of these rights of way completed? I thank him for what he has done but must ask him to try to speed matters up. Shall we soon get any official publication explaining the routes?
§ Mr. Skeffington
We will certainly give the information as soon as we can. The Commission now has some extra staff—still not enough, but more than it had before. Local authorities are taking on some of the burden of acquiring rights of way.