THE cost of introducing the controversial Right to Roam act over the past five years has run tens of millions of pounds over budget so far, according to a damning report by the Government's own National Audit Office.
Right to roam costs attacked
And the at the weekend, the Country Land and Business Association launched a savage attack on plans to spend millions more to bring every mile of English coastline under its provisions, despite widespread protest from private property owners on the coast, wildfowlers and conservationists who run wildlife sanctuaries for seabirds.
Says Douglas Chalmers, Northern Director of the CLA, pointing out that no-one knows how many people have taken advantage of the new access rights already granted: "Never has so much been spent on so few."
The cost of setting up the existing access system was £69 million, tens of millions over budget, because civil servants under-estimated the costs of thousands of appeals by landowners against new access rights - and the huge number of mistakes made by planners who got the maps of new routes wrong.
Now, the CLA says that many more millions will be wasted on extending access to the coast.
Says Chalmers: "The NAO report makes it clear that it is still too early to say how open accesshas been embraced by the public, and yet here we are rushing ahead again with plans to open up even more private land at the taxpayers' expense.
"Surely we could have learned from previous experience and plan pilot projects? In that way, we could work out the best options for everyone involved, provide the access people want, benefit local businesses, and achieve value for money."
- I am not surprised that the "right to roam" went over budget, it would have been cheaper to bring the existing rights of way up to date (money has to spent on them anyhow) & maybe creating paths to points of interest where none exist now.
Pete - Ripon