THE POP singer Madonna has won herself thousands of unlikely new fans - Yorkshire farmers and landowners who have joined her admiration society because of the fight she put up against the Right to Roam laws.
Madonna and her film director husband Guy Ritchie won the major part of their appeal against incorrectly mapped land for public access on their Ashcombe Estate under the Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000, in a landmark case which has been closely watched by the Country Land and Business Association (CLA).
Yorkshire CLA director Dorothy Fairburn has issued a statement welcoming the decision saying: "There are hundreds of appeals in progress in Yorkshire which do not enjoy the high profile of the Madonna case.
"This was a victory for common sense. For the past year we have been pointing out the inconsistencies and inaccuracies in the mapping process and questioning why landowners should have to pay for the Countryside Agency's mistakes.
"The whole issue of open access puts a burden on all farmers and land managers, in addition to which we have had to provide expert help to our members who found their gardens, their woodland and their cultivated fields wrongly mapped as open countryside for public access.
"Our members, who own more than half the rural land in Yorkshire, and especially those whose appeals are yet to be heard will take heart from this decision. Some areas are still in the consultation process and we will be continuing to urge members to lodge an appeal at the earliest possible opportunity if they feel their land has been incorrectly mapped."
The Countryside Agency has confirmed that at present in areas that include most of North and West Yorkshire a total of 1,818 appeals have been lodged. More than 600 have been successful so far as well as more than 100 partly so, with hundreds yet to be determined.
Appeals are due to be held in Skipton next week but many farmers are not over-confident: the Countryside Agency, which is handling the appeals, has granted access to the Queen's private estate at Sandringham, despite the huge security implications of having strangers wandering the grounds when the Royal Family are on holiday there.