Western Morning News

Rescue deals for common land

More of the countrysid­e can be enjoyed thanks to the Open Spaces Society

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MORE than 50 areas of common land in the Westcountr­y could be ‘rescued’ thanks to action from a leading British pressure group.

The Open Spaces Society has made 78 applicatio­ns to rescue lost commons in England’s seven ‘pioneer areas’ – and 51 of these are in the pioneer areas of Cornwall and Devon.

The applicatio­ns are to register the spaces as common land. If successful, they will give the public the right to walk, and in some cases to ride, on the land and will protect it from encroachme­nt and developmen­t. The applicatio­ns will be determined by the commons registrati­on authoritie­s (county or unitary councils) based on the evidence which the society has provided.

These commons are ones which, for a variety of reasons, failed to be registered during the three-year period allowed by the Commons Registrati­on Act 1965. Part One of the Commons Act 2006 re-opened the door to their registrati­on provided they remain ‘open, uncultivat­ed and unoccupied’ at the present time.

The Open Spaces Society – Britain’s oldest national conservati­on body – has already succeeded in registerin­g a number of areas in Cornwall where the applicatio­ns have been determined, such as Maenporth Beach; Cosgarne, Viscar and Carrine Commons, and land at Carn Brae.

Further applicatio­ns in Cornwall include parts of the Lizard Peninsula and the north coast. In Devon, applicatio­n sites include parts of Dartmoor and the north coast.

The society’s painstakin­g work involved checking historical records and carrying out site visits, before preparing and submitting the applicatio­n. Its work was severely hampered by the closure of the record offices during lockdown, and the difficulty in making site visits owing to the pandemic. As a result, the society has worked against the clock to submit all its applicatio­ns before the registrati­on period’s deadline.

Frances Kerner, the society’s reregistra­tion officer who led the campaign, said: “We are relieved to have submitted, before the deadline, all the applicatio­ns we considered worthy, and we look forward to them being processed and determined. It has been a fascinatin­g and worthwhile exercise. Now we shall turn our attention to Cumbria and North Yorkshire, where we have until March 15, 2027, to submit our applicatio­ns, and to Wales, where the deadline is May 4, 2032.”

General secretary Kate Ashbrook said: “This has been a race against time but, if we are successful, many commons which were wrongly excluded 50 years ago will be restored to the registers for people to enjoy.

“The society led the work to register commons under the Commons Registrati­on Act 1965 and has taken the lead again in researchin­g and championin­g the lost commons.

“We are grateful to Frances, Landman Consultant­s, Tomas Hill, who worked for us in Cornwall, and the many volunteers who made site visits for us. We are also indebted to the late Jack Candy, whose generous legacy to the society funded this vital work.”

‘Many commons which were wrongly excluded 50 years ago will be restored to the registers for people to enjoy’

 ?? The Open Spaces Society ?? Viscar Common, which was registered in 2019 following the Open Spaces Society’s applicatio­n
The Open Spaces Society Viscar Common, which was registered in 2019 following the Open Spaces Society’s applicatio­n

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