Frequently Asked Questions
Q. What are protected landscapes?
A. These are usually taken to be National Parks, Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty and National Scenic Areas.
Q. Which is the highest category?
A. In landscape terms, they are all ranked as of national or international importance.
Q. Who owns National Parks?
A. Land in national parks, and other protected landscapes, in the UK is owned in just the same way as other land –by individuals, companies, charities and public sector bodies.
Q. Who manages protected landscape?
A. The landowner or occupier manages the land, just as elsewhere. However, local authorities have a duty to prepare management plans covering National Parks and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty in their areas.
Q. Who is responsible for managing recreation?
A. As elsewhere, it is the landowner or occupier who deals with detailed management. However, the local authorities may be able to give guidance on recreation management, particularly large-scale events. Also, protected landscapes contain many areas of land designated for nature conservation and/or cultural heritage reasons, and consent from the relevant government body may be needed in some cases.
Q. What is cultural heritage?
A. Cultural heritage is a legacy left by people who have gone before us – our own predecessors both recent and from long ago. It includes archaeological sites from the earliest human activity through to recent times; hamlets, villages and towns; historic landscapes such as battlefields, designed landscapes, such as parks; buildings and farmsteads; green lanes; footpaths and bridleways; quarries and woodlands; and the widespread field patterns that are evidence of human exploitation of the landscape from the prehistoric and Saxon periods, through to the Parliamentary Enclosures of the 18th and 19th centuries.
Q. How does this affect recreation activities?
A. In most cases, it doesn’t. But, if a feature or site is designated as a Scheduled Monument, then damaging it through recreational activities could result in prosecution and people being fined.
Q. How do I find out about where such designations apply?
A. You can go to websites which show where Scheduled Monuments. – Click here to go to the Weblinks pages
Q. Why is a site scheduled when there’s nothing there except some humps, bumps and hollows?
A. Many of our older cultural heritage lies below ground waiting to be unearthed. But, to learn the most from it, experts have to see the artefacts in context (i.e. in their resting position along with everything else around it).
Q. What do I do if I find something that looks like it is of archaeological interest?
A. Firstly, if you go out with the specific intention of searching for artefacts, you should get permission of the landowner before you do. Secondly, if you do find something, you can find out more about it by contacting thePortable Antiquities Scheme.
Click here to go to http://www.finds.org.uk
Q. What do we mean by natural heritage?
A. It is all the natural world around us – flora and fauna, plus the landforms, rocks, fossils and features.
Q. Which is the relevant government body dealing with natural heritage?
A. This varies across the UK and the bodies are Natural England, Countryside Council for Wales, Scottish Natural Heritage and the Environment and Heritage Service for Northern Ireland.
Q. How is natural heritage given legal protection?
A. There are lots of laws that protect natural heritage but the main one is the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981, and subsequent amendments to it (e.g. under the Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000). The highest level of protection is in areas which have been notified as Sites of Scientific Interest (SSSIs), some of which are also designated as Natura 2000 sites and enjoy even higher protection.
Q. What are Natura 2000 sites?
A. These are SSSIs that have been designated under the Birds and Habitats Directives and are called Special Areas of Conservation (SACs) and Special Protection Areas (SPAs).
Q. How can I find out more?
A. You can visit the pages on BoBW, or the websites of the different government agencies. Click here to go to the Natural Heritage pages
Q. How do I know if I need the landowner’s permission to undertake my planned activity?
A. This can be a complex subject, as public rights of access vary from location to location.
For further guidance: click here to go to the Types of Access pages
Click here to go to Types of User
Click here to go to Further Information
Q. What sorts of activities can I do without needing the landowner’s permission?
A. This depends entirely on what rights exist over a particular piece of land. There may be public rights of way across it, or it may be an area of CRoW access land, and the activities you have a right to undertake differ accordingly.
Click here to go to Types of Access
Q. Is permission needed to hold an outdoor pursuits event on a SSSI ?
A. It depends. See the consents guidance for more information.
Click here to go to Consents Guidance
Q. Who is responsible for giving consent?
A. The owner or occupier is the person who has to get consent from the relevant nature conservation body (unless it’s a local authority). More details can be found in the consents guidance.
Click here to go to Consents Guidance pages
Q. Are there sites that can never have outdoor pursuits on them?
A. Yes, but very rarely. Restrictions can be imposed on many sites and these mean that activities can usually be managed rather than totally banned.
Q. How do I find the right national governing body?
A. Contact the Sports and Recreation Alliance (SRA)
Click here to go http://www.sportandrecreation.org.uk/ in a new window
What about Scotland?
There is no access land, and few rights of way, in Scotland. But, the Land Reform Act 2003 gives people the right of responsible access to most of the Scottish countryside.
Click here to go to http://www.outdooraccess-scotland.com/default.asp in a new window
Conflict to Consensus
Q. What is the best approach to follow?
A. We have provided a lot of guidance on this on BoBW – see Click here to go to the Step by Step pages
Q. It’s all very well saying to be reasonable but what if the other party is not reasonable?
A. This is very difficult, especially if positions become entrenched. There is further guidance on this on the BoBW site. Click here to go to the Hitting the Wall page
Q. Does this approach work?
A. Yes – in most cases. You can see examples on the Click here to go to the BoBW Case Studies pages
Planning an Event
Q. If we run an event on land that is crossed by a public right of way, can we have it diverted while the event is taking place for health and safety reasons?
A. You should contact the Rights of Way Officer at your local authority for guidance.
Q. As a landowner, am I responsible for injuries to participants who take part in activities on my land with my permission?
A. As a landowner you have a duty of care to make sure the site is as safe as could reasonably be expected i.e. no dangerous machinery lying around, shafts are fenced off, no bulls at large etc. The participants and/or event organisers should have their own insurance for other mishaps.
Q. If we plan an event on open access land, can we restrict the public from using the site while the event is taking place?
A. Yes, the landowner or tenant has 28 discretionary days per year when he can restrict access to his land for any reason. However, discretionary restrictions do not apply to rights of way crossing the land. More information can be found in the Land Manager's Guidance Pack. You can order a copy by phoning the open access contact centre on 0845 100 3298 or view it on the Open Access website.
Click here to open http://www.openaccess.gov.uk/ in a new window
Note, though, that Section 15 is not open access land and different arrangements for closure may apply.
Do I need to speak to the police?
For some events, you may have to consult with your local police force, especially if roads are to be affected
Is the site covered by nature conservation designations?
Best of Both Worlds website provides information
Click here to go to the Nature Conservation Designations page
Is this land Common Land or a Green?
There are registers that record where Common Land and Greens have been registered. These are held by Commons Registration Authorities (usually the County Council). Alternatively, you could ask the landowner, or, if you are a member, the Open Spaces Society.
Some landowners have entered into agri-environment schemes
Which may affect their management, as well as providing voluntary access.
You should consult:
- Defra for sites in England
- For information about specific walks and rides
- Countryside Council for Wales (CCW) for sites in Wales
- Scottish Executive Environment and Rural Affairs Department for sites in Scotland
- The National Governing Bodies of outdoor pursuits and bodies that represent land managers can also provide general information