HL Deb 01 November 2000 vol 618 cc1104-8

(" .—(1) The appropriate countryside body shall prepare "access land information maps" and shall issue these at the same time as any maps issued in draft form under section 5.

(2) The access information maps shall, in relation to any area of land mapped under section 4—

  1. (a) show the possible location of any means of access to the land within the meaning of section 32 of this Act,
  2. (b) show the possible location of any notices which might be provided under section 19,
  3. (c) show whether areas of land mapped under section 4 are, or are not, accessible from any highway and distinguish between such areas where both occur on the same map,
  4. (d) in relation to any registered common land which is included on the map prepared under section 4, indicate whether any such land is—
    1. (i) common land within the meaning of section 193(1) of the Law of Property Act 1925;
    2. (ii) common land within the meaning of section 193(2) of the Law of Property Act 1925; or
    3. (iii) any other registered common land,
    and where common land of more than one type occurs on the same map, the access information map shall distinguish between them,
  5. (e) show any areas of land which are, in the view of the appropriate countryside body, excepted land within the meaning of Schedule 1,
  6. (f) show any areas of land which may, in the view of the appropriate countryside body, need to be subject to directions under section 23(1)(b) for the purpose of avoiding danger to the public.").

The noble Lord said: My Lords, Amendment No. 70 concerns a duty to prepare maps showing additional information alongside draft maps of access land. The noble Baroness appeared to highlight that a misunderstanding about the maps exists between the two sides of the House. If I understood her correctly, I am very disappointed. If the maps are simply to be plain, statutory ordnance survey maps which show nothing more or less than areas of ground which are access land, I believe that that is a terrible waste of effort.

I believe, and it would appear that the Government have resisted this so far, that including additional information on the draft maps could be helpful to all interests in assessing the implications of the designation of access land. The implications could include the need to provide new access points and notices to indicate the boundary of access land or to provide information to the public of closures and so on; to establish new rights of way to link parcels of access land to the highway network; to provide warden services or to ensure clarity between common land covered by the Act and other common land.

A suggested solution is for the Countryside Agency and the Countryside Council for Wales to provide maps alongside the draft maps of access land that show all that information. That will enable the implications of the new right of access to be considered at as early a stage in the process as possible. The maps will be immensely useful to all interests in deciding what implications follow from the provision of access.

I go further. If that work is done—if that form of mapping is put together—it will be the most superb creation that those of us who enjoy the countryside and wander into the wildernesses, such as they are in this country, could have—modern up-to-date maps using the latest techniques, showing all the needs a walker or long-distance hiker requires. To fail to do that on the back of this Bill and the right that is being given to the people of this country would be a serious disappointment. I beg to move.

1.15 a.m.

Lord Rotherwick

My Lords, I shall bring forward Amendment No. 138 later on this subject. So I will not say too much at this time. I agree with my noble friend that if the maps do not show a range of additional information there will be a good opportunity lost. In my experience, when one has civil aviation maps enabling a pilot to enter an aeroplane with just a map giving sufficient information for all his flights, I cannot see why it cannot occur on the land.

Baroness Miller of Chilthorne Domer

My Lords, I feel that, from these Benches, we are not clear about what this amendment is trying to achieve. As I read the Bill, there is the process we discussed at length in Committee; that is, the statutory mapping process, which is necessary so that it is clear what land is in and what land is out. After that in my view the important point is that it must be done as soon as possible. The Ordnance Survey, on which the public rely to use land, uses the information that the countryside bodies have gathered to produce in its explorer and leisure ranges as comprehensive an explanation as possible of access land—the way one arrives at such land and the facilities around it. The Ordnance Survey maps should be very full and comprehensive. It is that interface between the Countryside Agency process—which is what the Bill sets out—and how Ordnance Survey take on that work that is very important.

It is crucial that the public have that full information. If the Minister has the information as to how that interface will happen at this stage that is wonderful. If not, it is something about which we shall be anxious to hear—the Government's expectations on the agency passing on information to Ordnance Survey—at the next stage of the Bill.

Baroness Farrington of Ribbleton

My Lords, I am getting a little worried about the noble Lord, Lord Rotherwick, who still seems determined to use the statutory maps almost as a means of making his aviation safer. I hope that between us, we can manage to convince him that it would not be safe.

Lord Rotherwick

My Lords, I think that the Minister understands me. I already have my aviation map which makes my flying safe. I was hoping the same process could be used to make perambulating on the ground safe as well.

Baroness Farrington of Ribbleton

My Lords, I am sure that I can reassure the noble Lord. For example, I have known the noble Lord, Lord Greaves, for many years as a Lancashire county councillor and he does not need a map that will take him up and down above the ground. It is not quite the same sort of map that we are looking for.

We have tabled an amendment which will be debated later which will place a duty on the countryside bodies to ensure that the public are informed of means of access and their rights and obligations under Part I.

It will, of course, be important to ensure that, as the noble Lord, Lord Glentoran, said, users have information about which land is subject to the right and how to get onto it. We said before that we expect such information, as the noble Baroness, Lady Miller of Chilthorne Domer, said, will be shown on Ordnance Survey maps, just as such information is already shown on maps of access land in the Peak District.

These amendments would require the countryside bodies to make judgments concerning the possible positioning of means of access and notices and whether the land will need to be subject to a direction because there is a danger to the public.

Those issues do not need to be assessed at the early stage when draft maps of open country are issued. Means of access and notices are not, in any event, matters for the countryside bodies to address. Those responsibilities rest instead with the access authority.

The new duty on the countryside bodies will secure much, if not all, of the information which this amendment seeks. We do not think that the countryside bodies should have to prepare additional maps to show that information. It can be presented better in other ways or on Ordnance Survey maps. We want that right of access to be seen in relation to all the other access opportunities available to the public. That will be better achieved by the new information duty that we are proposing, rather than a requirement to produce discrete access maps.

However, this amendment would be unduly prescriptive. It would require the countryside bodies to issue maps containing data not in their control, or at an inappropriately early stage in the development of maps of open country. It would require them to draw up detailed maps of excepted land which will be obvious to all. It would require them to focus unreasonably on land from which the public should be excluded owing to dangers, when other types of exclusion should receive similar attention. The new information duty on the countryside bodies will ensure that the best elements of this amendment can be achieved on a much more flexible and up-to-date basis. For that reason, I ask the noble Lord, Lord Glentoran, not to press the amendment.

Lord Glentoran

My Lords, I heard what the Minister said and I listened very carefully to her. I preface my remarks by saying that I believe that the noble Baroness, Lady Miller of Chilthorne Domer, has got it absolutely right. She enunciated almost what I was trying to say, and she did so rather more clearly. The Minister did not address the question which the noble Baroness, Lady Miller, posed in relation to the interface between the statutory map, which will apparently only show access land, and the Ordnance Survey maps. The penny has only just dropped tonight that there will be two separate processes. Ordnance Survey will go on in its usual brilliant way and alongside it will be a bureaucratic map put together by a whole lot of different people at some expense. If I go on the moors or mountains, will I need two maps—one that tells me where I can walk and another that helps me to find the way?

Baroness Farrington of Ribbleton

My Lords, I can agree with the noble Lord that the noble Baroness, Lady Miller, got it absolutely right. The original, statutory map merely identifies the land to which the Bill refers and access to which would be available—all other things being equal. Then there would be a process involving the access authority taking a lead role to identify the detail. It is not a case of two different maps but an Ordnance Survey map to which additional information can be added. The two maps would run in parallel in the way that the noble Lord fears were his amendment to be accepted.

Lord Glentoran

My Lords, on that happy note, I thank the noble Baroness for her patience and beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Baroness Farrington of Ribbleton

My Lords, I beg to move that consideration on Report be now adjourned.

Moved accordingly, and, on Question, Motion agreed to.

House adjourned at twenty-seven minutes past one o'clock.