Labour reneges on right to roam
The plans, to be announced tomorrow, will combine voluntary and legal measures to open up the countryside, but they will fall far short of the compulsory right of access that is one of Labour's oldest and more frequently repeated pledges.
More than 180 Labour MPs support a private member's bill from MP Gordon Prentice which would lay down a statutory right to roam, and the new plans are bound to stir widespread anger. They fly in the face of repeated pre-election promises by ministers - including Tony Blair - that "a Labour government will give people a right to roam".
The plans provide for legislation to establish a presumption of a right to roam over mountain, moorland, heath, downland and common land in England and Wales, but they stipulate that permission must be negotiated between landowners, ramblers and other interested parties in "regional access fora".
If agreement cannot be reached in the fora, there will be a right of appeal to the new Countryside Agency, due to be set up in April. But many Labour MPs are unhappy because the new body is to be headed by Ewen Cameron, former president of the Country Landowners' Association.
The plans are a compromise between the Environment Minister, Michael Meacher, who has pressed for a full statutory right to roam, and Mr Blair, who has insisted on a voluntary approach since being lobbied by landowners after the election.
The Prime Minister blocked Mr Meacher's proposals for months, demanding that plans for legislation be dropped, until forced by backbench pressure to give way partially.
- 1 James Foley 'beheaded': Isis video shows militant with British accent 'execute US journalist' – and warns Obama of more to come
- 2 ALS ice bucket challenge co-founder Corey Griffin drowns aged 27
- 3 Cilla Black defends Cliff Richard: 'I am positive that the allegations are without foundation'
- 4 Nicki Minaj finally releases predictable 'Anaconda' video
- 5 James Foley 'beheading': Met police warn public watching murder video could be criminal offence
Scottish independence: English people overwhelmingly want Scotland to stay in the UK
Isis threat: Cameron wants an alliance with Iran
Crisis? What crisis? A visiting US doctor gives the NHS a rave review
Michael Brown shooting: Chaos erupts on the streets of Ferguson after autopsy shows teenager was shot six times – twice in the head
Richard Dawkins on babies with Down Syndrome: 'Abort it and try again. It would be immoral to bring it into the world'
Scottish Independence Referendum: Salmond described as 'arrogant, ambitious and dishonest' by Scottish women
£45000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Quantitative Analyst (Financial Services, ...
Negotiable: Harrington Starr: Application Support Engineer (C++, .NET, VB, Per...
Negotiable: Harrington Starr: C# .NET Software Developer (Client-Side, SQL, VB...
£40000 - £60000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: C# Developer (...