Countryside and Rights of Way Bill
Earl Peel (Conservative)
My Lords, I am grateful to the Minister for a clear indication as to his reaction to my amendment. I welcome the fact that the Government have taken on board the points raised in Committee. We now have protection for dwelling-houses based on 20 metres, which is probably quite adequate. I acknowledge that in Schedule 1 access to all land covered by buildings, or the curtilage of such land, would also be prohibited. I accept that those two separate issues are important and go some way to address the problem.
However, there are many cases in which buildings have no curtilage and some dwelling-houses back directly on to access land. Particularly at night, very often those dwelling-houses cannot be distinguished from a barn due to planning restrictions or design standards. In a number of cases at night people will be unable to distinguish between a dwelling-house and a barn. That is why my amendment goes further and suggests that there should be a 20-metre restriction around all buildings.
There is also a security issue. Many barns and buildings contain valuable machinery--all kinds of agricultural hardware--and stock. It will give people a greater sense of security to know that those people exercising their rights under the Bill will keep 20 metres away from all such buildings. Therefore, it is not an unreasonable amendment.
I have another point; namely, with the additional access that the Bill will provide, the liability to owners and occupiers of trespass on land which is not access land will be enhanced. On the back of that I suggest that there will be increased costs. Although it is somewhat detached from the points that I am making, perhaps we should bear that factor in mind. My amendment will allow for an exclusion area of 20 metres around all buildings. That will give people the additional amount of security which they deserve. I beg to move.