Countryside: Access

Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs written question – answered on 2nd December 2015.

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Photo of Lord Kennedy of Southwark Lord Kennedy of Southwark Shadow Spokesperson (Housing), Opposition Whip (Lords), Shadow Spokesperson (Communities and Local Government), Shadow Spokesperson (Home Affairs)

To ask Her Majesty’s Government how much of the land in England is open access land, and what plans they have to increase that amount.

Photo of Lord Gardiner of Kimble Lord Gardiner of Kimble Captain of the Queen's Bodyguard of the Yeomen of the Guard (HM Household) (Deputy Chief Whip, House of Lords)

Under the Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000 there is a right of access for open-air recreation on foot to 2,137,756 acres of land which are mapped as open country and registered common land. This is about 6.5% of the total area of England.

Section 16 of the Act enables the owner, or a person with a long-leasehold, of any land to voluntarily dedicate open access rights over that land. To date, 384,419 acres of land have been dedicated, mostly by the Forestry Commission.

Natural England is aiming to dedicate all 224 of the national nature reserves and similar holdings it owns, or land held on a lease of at least 90 years. Natural England has dedicated 31,876 acres of national nature reserves with a further 2,915 acres becoming accessible on 7 February 2016.

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