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To roam or not to roam?
11 Jul 2023

Sooner or later, it is inevitable that we will have a new political party heading up the country and it’s not unrealistic to assume that it might be Labour.

With that appointment will of course come a string of change and a raft of new policies – one of which could be the introduction of a Scottish-style right to roam law.

The Labour Party pledged earlier this year that, if it wins the next general election, it will look to grant the public greater access to the countryside irrespective of whether land is publicly or privately owned.

The new Right to Roam Act in England would mean the public having greater access not just to general green space, woodland and riverside areas but farmland also.

The announcement has unsurprisingly sparked fresh debate over the age-old ‘right to roam’ notion and some farmers and landowners are rightly concerned.

Whilst public footpaths are open to all, wandering across private land is deemed trespass.

Legally, the public does not have automatic access to walk across agricultural or other private land.

Landowners also do have the right to restrict access to their land for up to 28 days a year to protect livestock.

However, for the avoidance of doubt, under the Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000, the public does have a ‘right to roam’ over any land shown on a map as ‘open country’, registered common land, land that’s higher than 600m above sea level and dedicated land.

If you’re the landowner and want to know what you can do to protect your property while remaining within the boundaries of the law contact Tom Devey, a Partner in the Agricultural & Rural Services team at FBC Manby Bowdler.

Meet Tom Devey