Wednesday, 23 January 2019

Celebrate commons, says campaign group

THE Open Spaces Society has called for more recognition of the importance of common land in the draft management plan for the Chilterns Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

The Henley-based campaign group was commenting on the document produced by the Chilterns Conservation Board that will apply until 2024.

The society says there are nearly 200 commons in the Chilterns covering 2,000 hectares which provide great public benefit but many of them are small and neglected. It says the conservation board should continue to celebrate and recognise the value of the commons.

The society also says that landowners need to understand their obligations in relation to public rights of way and access land and both of these should be in exemplary condition in the AONB. The board should be prepared to object to the diversion of public paths where these are not positively in the public interest and resist attempts by landowners to move public paths away from properties or to make paths appear private.

The board should also promote Walkers Are Welcome accredited towns such as Henley as a means of securing greater income from walkers for the local economy and promoting people’s health and wellbeing.

Kate Ashbrook, general secretary of the society, said: “We think the draft plan is excellent but have made some suggestions of how it might be strengthened to protect and promote public access and enjoyment, common land and other open spaces, all of which are vital to the Chilterns.”

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