Roles and Responsibilities

Though the Cornwall Countryside Access Forum does not have the power to make decisions, it gives advice on how Cornwall Council should perform their executive functions in relation to public rights of way and access to the countryside.

The Forum has the primary purpose of advising bodies specified in Section 94(4) of the Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000 (CROW), which includes Cornwall Council, on how to make the countryside more accessible and enjoyable for open air recreation, in ways which address social, economic and environmental interests. It encourages and assists access provision, giving strategic advice on issues of particular relevance to the County of Cornwall. The Forum is expected to improve liaison between interest groups and to have links with other forums.

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It gives advice on three main topics:

  • the development of recreation and access strategies which cater for a wide range of people;
  • the improvement of the rights of way network; and
  • the implementation, management and review of the statutory right of access to the countryside.

It also aims to:

  • develop a constructive and inclusive approach to the improvement of recreational access to the countryside;
  • respect local circumstances and different interests while operating within national guidance;
  • provide advice on issues of principle and good practice which is consistent with national guidance;
  • engage in constructive debate and seek consensus wherever possible;
  • where consensus is not possible, make clear the nature of differing views and suggest how they might be resolved.

The Forum also has a role in providing advice to a range of bodies specified in the Regulations in terms of:-

  • improvement of public access (whether by foot or by horse, cycle, canoe, mechanically propelled vehicle or any other lawful means) to land in the area for the purposes of open air recreation and the enjoyment of the area;
  • public access to land in the area for any other lawful purpose (whether on foot, horse, cycle, canoe or by any means other than by mechanically propelled vehicle);
  • public access to land in the area by means of a mechanically propelled vehicle for any other lawful purpose but only in so far as the access relates to byways open to all traffic (BOAT).

In giving advice the Forum should aim to influence by providing independent, constructive, relevant, incisive and informed comment which takes account of a broad range and balance of local interests.

Section 60 of the Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000 requires access authorities to prepare Rights of Way Improvement Plans which review the adequacy of their rights of way network and which propose action to secure an improved network.

The Forum gives strategic advice to Cornwall Council on:

  • reviews of rights of way, including the extent to which local rights of way meet the present and likely future needs of the public;
  • the draft Rights of Way Improvement Plan prior to publication;
  • the results of public consultation on the draft Plan and any particularly significant issues which have arisen from it;
  • the priorities for the action plans which follow from the review; and
  • progress in implementing the action plan.

The Forum takes a strategic approach to its work on rights of way. Exceptionally, the Forum will be asked to advise on cases of national significance, which have implications for local access provision.

The Forum advises on and assists in the introduction, management and review of the statutory right of access to the countryside.

Natural England has the power to close land or to apply restrictions to the right of access, on the grounds of nature conservation or heritage, specific land management needs, danger of fire, or other danger to the public, in accordance with the legislation. It may not be possible for Natural England to consult with the Forum on each application for local restrictions, especially when relatively short notice is given. However, it will aim to consult local forums on applications for all extensive or longer-term local restrictions to access.