Letter: Right to roam

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The Independent Culture
Sir: David Aaronovitch's article on the Government's right to roam proposals(Comment, 9 March) contains many misconceptions about who owns and cares for the countryside. I am no apologist for landed interests or the bully-boys of the rural scene, but, I do stand up for the smallholders of about 50 acres who make up the majority of the Country Landowners' Association membership.

The area I live in is beautiful and attracts a lot of visitors, which is their right. However, the increasing pressure on the countryside is invading the privacy of those who live here.

In our case, walkers have to walk through our farmyard, past our front door. They believe that they are invisible to my family and no consideration given that we live here. Dogs wander off the right of way, litter is dropped, strangers poke about the barns. The law of trespass? Forget it. Police protection? Forget that too. "Is he carrying a gun, madam?"

We have tried to get the council to divert the right of way. We are now in our second year, facing a bill of pounds 20,000 and with no end in sight. The position in law of the use of rights of way is confused, archaic, bureaucratic and supremely costly if you want to change things to reconcile privacy with the common good. Rights of way arose because they reflected how rural people moved around the countryside in the past; they were not designed for modern recreational requirements.


Abergavenny, Gwent