FARMERS and landowners are being asked to open up even more land to public access on top of the hundreds of thousands of acres that have already been declared open - often against the wishes of the owners - under the Right to Roam legislation.
However, by voluntarily opening up more land not covered by the controversial Countryside and Rights of Way Act (CroW), this time they could be paid for their decision from a £1.2 million fund set aside by Rural Affairs Minister Jim Knight.
The move was welcomed over the weekend by the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority's access projects officer, Mark Allum, who said: "With 62 per cent of the national park now available for public access on foot, the Yorkshire Dales already offers great opportunities for activities such as walking, bird watching and climbing."
In a speech at a lunch in the Dales, Mr Knight said the Countryside Agency was to launch a three year programme to persuade landowners to voluntarily dedicate more land to public access.
"Dedication can make a real difference to access opportunities in places where there is little mapped access land, and it can ease the pressure on land already open to the public," he said.