HC Deb 10 July 2001 vol 371 cc494-5W
Andrew Bennett

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if she will set out the timetable for implementing part I of the Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000, in order to achieve her Public Service Agreement target of opening up public access to mountain, moor, heath and down and registered common land by the end of 2005. [3154]

Alun Michael

Pary I of the Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000 requires various regulations to be made before the right of access is brought into force. The table sets out the provisional programme for consultation on proposals for regulations and for bringing the regulations into force in order to meet our Public Service Agreement target. We are firmly committed to the 2005 target although the exact timing of each of the intermediate stages in our programme may depend on responses to the various consultation papers which we shall be issuing. I shall consider the views of respondents carefully before laying regulations before Parliament.

Progress in developing regulations has been delayed by the secondment of staff to undertake vital work in responding to the foot and mouth crisis. I now expect to lay regulations during the summer recess enabling the Countryside Agency to issue the first draft maps of open country and registered common land in November. I shall review the case for giving earlier access to mountain land and registered common land in the light of experience of the first mapping exercises. This would lead to the commencement of certain regulations earlier than the proposed timetable.