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The Governement should sycamore rider-friendly policy !




Says Ian McNeil Cooke

Says Ian McNeil Cooke In an effort to ensure better long term legal protection of hitherto unobstructed open access moorland from unchecked development – especially in the light of recent and impending stock proofing with barbed wire fencing, gates and cattle grids - Save Penwith Moors has made the first of several applications to Cornwall Council under Part 1 of the 2006 Commons Act to re-register as common land an area of heathland around Carn Galva [designated CL 645] in the Parish of Zennor.

The 1844 Tithe map describes this land as ‘common’ with the occupier at Bossigran Farm [Bosigran Farm] having turbary rights over it [Turbary is the term used to describe the ancient right to cut turf, or peat, for fuel] and it is reasonable to consider that the area is waste land of a manor and common land. This area of open heathland - which can be defined as barren or waste land, uncultivated with scrub vegetation - demonstrates that the area has never been successfully enclosed and thus supports the existence of a common since time immemorial.

Today the whole of CL 645 is within open access land under the Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000 (CROW); the landowner being The National Trust.

At the time of application (December 2011) the land was still open, uncultivated and unoccupied although subject to an Organic Entry Level & Higher Level Stewardship agreement with the tenant farmer at Bosigran Farm. However, although the land is subject to grazing rights, it is insufficient for it to qualify as occupied [ref: DEFRA, Guidance to Commons Registration Authorities in the pilot areas (93 14)].

In the light of details presented in our application, the land comes within the criteria defined by schedule 2 (4) of the Commons Act 2006, and should now therefore be registered under the provision by Cornwall Council in its register of Common Land.

As part of the process the public will have the opportunity to comment – we hope in support.

Click here to view the application


The legal position concerning common land is confused. Most commons are based on ancient rights: the exact rights which apply to individual commons were in some cases documented

but more often were based on long-held traditions. The UK government tried to regularise the definitions of common land with the Commons Registration Act 1965 which established a register of common land.

In February 1970 application under the 1965 Act was made to the commons registration authority – the former Cornwall County Council - by the West Cornwall Footpaths Preservation Society [WCFPS] to register an area around Carn Galva.

An objection was received by the Council in December 1972 from an agent acting for the then owner who lived in Exeter, and the application was withdrawn by WCFPS in July 1973 and registration cancelled on 27th November 1974.

A new Act was passed in 2006 – the Commons Act – with a prime role being undertaken by the Open Spaces Society, that provides for the review, updating and keeping commons registers up-to-date. As part of this process applications to register land as common that failed under the 1965 Commons Registration Act may in certain cases be reconsidered. Land added to the register will enjoy the special legal protection afforded to common land 1 whereby, under Section 38 of the 2006 Act, it cannot be developed or encroached upon without consent of the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.

I pine for a more sensible approach to saving our forests

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