On Monday 13th September, the BMC met with officials from the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra), to discuss a number of issues including coastal access, CRoW Act mapping, National Park asset management, and quarry restoration.
Dave Turnbull from the BMC and Tom Franklin of the Ramblers attended the meeting, along with two representatives from the English Access Forum. It was an opportunity to talk directly to Richard Benyon MP, Minister for the Natural Environment and Fisheries, to raise concerns about the possible impact of cuts in expenditure, and to encourage support for recreation in the countryside.
The key points from the meeting:
The Government is committed to implementing coastal access, which will include 'spreading room' (eg. nearby sea cliffs) as well as a coastal path. Spending cuts may influence the timing of the programme, which could take slightly longer than the stated 10 years.
CRoW mapping review
The BMC accepted the two-year postponement of the decadal review, to enable Defra to make savings to its expenditure plans. However, we have identified over 40 sites where mapping errors exist, and stressed the importance of the review to the Minister.
Peak District National Park asset review
We advised the Minister that we are happy to work with other prospective owners / managers of estate land in the National Park, but that the BMC feels the Park Authority is a worthy body to own and manage such land; we don't feel all of the its assets should necessarily be disposed of.
We emphasised the recreational potential of quarries and the need for proper restoration plans that take into account after use for climbing. Specific reference was made to the scale of quarrying in the Leicestershire. A request was made for climbing to be addressed as part of a review of Minerals Planning Guidance 7, which covers the reclamation of mineral workings.
The meeting also touched on Occupiers’ Liability, and the perceived concern that landowners still have in this regard.
Richard Benyon expressed an interest in doing what he could to increase the recreational potential of the countryside, and asked his officials in Defra to follow up several of the issues raised.
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Richard Benyon MP