Common Land Views Sought
Byline: By Jennifer Mackenzie
North farmers with rights to common land are being urged to submit their views in an important consultation launched on proposals for the more effective management of commons.
More than half the area of the common land in England and Wales is in the northern counties of England - with Cumbria alone having 300,000 acres, representing 30pc of the total and a further 200,000 acres in Yorkshire.
In Durham there are 60,000 acres of common land and there are large commons in Northumberland in Allendale and Hexhamshire - as well as the Town Moor, Newcastle.
The consultation launched by Rural Affairs Minister Alun Michael, marks the culmination of more than 50 years of attempts to address the management of common land and it gives those with commons rights the final opportunity to express their views before legislation.
"One of the most important aspects which should emerge from this consultation is that it will be able to empower commoners," said Andrew Humphries, of Ivegill, Carlisle, who is adviser to the Cumbria Federation of Commoners - the first federation in England and Wales which was officially set up earlier this year.
"At the moment commoners are being held accountable without being able to do anything about the issues themselves. The outcome of these consultations should give individual commoners associations the capacity to pass legal rules and by-laws to bring about local management of commons," he said. Mr Michael said: "Common land is part of our heritage and a valuable resource - it is valued for nature conservation, landscape and recreation, and is an essential component of the agricultural economy, particularly in upland areas. …