One of the key questions that Natural
refuses to answer is the issue of statutory duty
Says Bob Milton
You will note that the key phrase is management control. If as I believe the Scheme of Regulation is still the duty of Three Rivers then the CPC is not in control. It is also incumbent on the CPC, TRDC and Natural England not to compromise the public’s rights to ‘air and exercise’ or ‘recreation’ through the introduction or imposition of any management regime. Parliament has already found that a 10%/10ha grazing scheme is acceptable in terms of balancing the needs of the conservationists and the public’s rights so why is that not acceptable by NE in making stewardship agreements.
It seems to me that they can manipulate their own criteria to meet what ever situation they are in just to meet the PSA targets and objectives, so how about manipulating the agreements to protect and promote public access to the countryside with all the associated benefits both physically and physiologically. The over riding purpose for which this, the other 200 CA1899 commons and those 100’s which are held under local or private acts is public recreation these agri agreements auger against that dominant tenement for which the land is held. Yet they still carry on regardless knowing that the public is a fragmented group with no finance to challenge the basic principles on which this inequality and discrimination is founded. Divide and conquer springs to mind.
One of the key questions that NE refuses to answer is the issue of statutory duty. There is a statutory duty on all government and local authorities in relation to nature conservation but CAP money cannot be used for statutory duty in any form. It is not whether NE can pay the landowner, land manager or contractor but whether they are paying for statutory duty of the landowner, tenant or lessee. To do so would in my opinion be ultra vires and if continued once pointed out could even be even considered by some as vicarious malfeasance.
The question of statutory duty is never asked by those in NE who are charged with making stewardship agreements. The appointment of third parties to carry out management does not mitigate that statutory duty yet that seems to have been the approach of NE as seen from the reply below. What they do is to use the threat of prosecution to bring the local authorities and other public landowners into line and agree to the imposition and funding through stewardship rather than saying what you do has to comply whilst still maintaining your dominant duty to public recreation. I have not found one HLS agreement for public recreation land where the dominant duty of the landowner has taken preference or has even been considered other than at the most minimal and obstructive level.
The truth is that stewardship agreements for public recreation land do not take into account existing public access rights or even in some cases go against the primary legislation under which the land is held.
The cost to date and the expected costs in making HLS agreements which rely on non exempt grazing for public access commons and other public open space must have already run into hundreds of thousands of pounds and has antagonised and/or displaced thousands of people.
Is this really what NE is all about?
Should there be a review of stewardship in relation to land where there are existing public access rights?