Purpose: An opportunity for LAF members to update the Forum on District Council liaison and other LAF representative project activity since the last meeting.
The report of the Secretary giving LAF members the opportunity to update the Forum on District Council liaison and other LAF representative project activity since the last meeting.
In addition to the information provided for the report, Will Scarlett confirmed that his work to consider the four consultation policies referred to in paragraph 3.2 was ongoing, and that he was pleased to note the positive way in which they had been written, all referencing active cycle routes etc.
In regard to the table at paragraph 2.1, the following amendments were agreed:
· Selby District Liaison to be removed from David Lepper and ‘Protected Landscapes’ added;
· HS2 to be removed;
· A19 to be removed from Rachel Connolly and taken on by Roma Haigh
Roma Haigh confirmed she had responded to a Ryedale District Council consultation on housing developments. She also drew attention to the coming 40th Anniversary of the Yorkshire Wolds Way.
In regard to the A1, Rachel Connolly confirmed that fencing was to be removed and laurel bushes planted in order to address the issue with glare.
In regard to the Coast to Coast National Trail, Ian Kelly suggested an update be brought to the next meeting and that a representative from National England be invited to attend.
Andrew Mackintosh from Natural England joined the meeting at 11:27am to provide an overview of Natural England’s new land management scheme, and to provide feedback on a list of questions previously drawn up by Forum members.
In response to those questions Andrew Mackintosh confirmed his particular role was as a specialist for public access, recreation and rights of way, providing input to environment schemes and the interaction of other interests such as conservation, bio-diversity and landscape, and their interaction with public access etc. He also confirmed Natural England’s access team was expanding to allow their role within public access to expand.
Members noted that much of the current rights of way network was fragmented, and questioned whether under ELMS, farmers would be offered grants to create new permissive routes. They also noted that although new or improved public access was included as one of the 'public goods' in the original ELMS consultation, it appeared to have slipped down the agenda. They expressed concern that it might even disappear as an option. In response, Andrew Mackintosh confirmed the question of what public goods might cover was yet to be made clear as a final announcement was still awaited. He also confirmed Natural England had put evidence forward to DEFRA on a range of things for consideration, including the pros and cons of permissive access, permanent access and the advantages of enhancing accessibility and better infrastructure all round.
He also confirmed:
· If access was not included in ELMs, Natural England would be seeking the introduction of some other delivery mechanism;
· The future timetable would not be known until the expected announcement was made;
· The timespan for new ELMS agreements was still unknown.
· Countryside Stewardship Access Agreements were coming to an end, meaning that many well used and valued permissive paths could disappear. In response, Natural England had submitted a bid for an evidence project to look at what happened to those permissive access agreements under stewardship;
· The current cross compliance system would come to an end within the next couple of years and the future regulations would look like for a whole range of environmental issues was still unknown;
· The Coast to Coast Path was currently being reviewed and Natural England was currently carrying out an initial survey of the route to look at the practicalities involved, after which a timetable would be drawn up and a consultation process undertaken;
· His main concern was whether landscape and bio-diversity would be prioritised over public access;
· A case had been made for providing more Local Access Forum support in the future, via a new part-time role within Natural England;
The Chair thanked Andrew Mackintosh for attending the meeting and requested that an update on the Coast to Coast National Trail be brought to the next Forum meeting.
Resolved – That:
i. The additional information provided at the meeting be noted;
ii. The table at paragraph 2.1 of the report be updated to reflect the information provided at the meeting;
iii. At update on the Coast to Coast National Trail be added to the work programme for the next meeting;