• Bringing together Kent farmers and landowners, access groups and expert speakers, the event prompted lively debate regarding the opportunities for reform and the complexities of balancing conservation interest and visitor experience.

    As part of the expert panel, Allis focused on the legal issues including liabilities and obligations of landowners, as well as the flexibility to vary a right of way.

    The key messages from the debate were:

    • There is a need for balance between conservation interest and visitor access.
    • People care about rights of way and getting into the countryside, but rights of way also need to be relevant for today’s demands.
    • Other European countries focus on collaboration to encourage permissive use, with payments for access and Government provided indemnity.
    • The Government’s 25 year Environment Plan highlights public access and its benefits for health and wellbeing.
    • The rights of way process in this country is inflexible, litigious and does not engender collaboration between those involved.
    • There is a need to educate the public about their responsibilities and the importance of the Countryside Code for both land managers and visitors.
    • Public access can create valuable opportunities for rural tourism and diversification.

    To read the full report and access Allis and the other speakers’ presentations, visit the CLA website.

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