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Saving our forests is seeing the wood for the trees

Wetley Moor. Preys Heath, Blackbushe Hants, Seale Guidford, Hartlebury Worc and many others throughout the country

"Very little to do with wildlife and everything to do with subversive and manipulative inclosure of our open spaces."

Says Maureen Comber

Says Maureen ComberSo what if anything are Open Spaces Society doing about all of this? What is the National Common Land Stakeholders Group doing? Why are they content to sit there and see all these enclosures happening? Don't they realise that it is the thin end of a very nasty wedge or are they part of the scam? Very little to do with wildlife and everything to do with subversive and manipulative inclosure of our open spaces.

It is nothing new and has happened before, there is always someone trying to get their hands on the rights of the common man.

Quote from Mr Justice Collins in Ashbrook v Secretary of State:

9 “The erection of any building or fence, or the construction of any other work, whereby access to land to which this section applies is prevented or impeded, shall not be lawful unless the consent of the Minister [now the Secretary of State] thereto is obtained, and in giving or withholding his consent the Minister shall have regard to the same considerations and shall, if necessary, hold the same inquiries as are directed by the Commons Act, 1876, to be taken into consideration and held by the Minister before forming an opinion whether an application under the Inclosure Acts, 1854 to 1882, shall be acceded to or not”.

Section 193 of the 1925 Act gives members of the public 'rights of access for air and exercise' to certain common land.

10. Inclosure of commons was a very contentious issue in the 19th century. Lords of the manor who generally owned common land were concerned to make the best use of it for themselves, whether for agriculture or to build on as the population grew. The Inclosure Act 1845 is entitled: -

"An Act to facilitate the Inclosure and Improvement of Commons and Lands held in common …"

The battle for the preservation of common land for the benefit of members of the public and to enable access to it to be maintained culminated in s.194 of the 1925 Act, but this repeated earlier statutes and the language is identical to that in some of them. Some subsequent statutes or subordinate legislation have used the same words. The 1876 Act states in its preamble: -

"Whereas by the Inclosure Acts 1845 to 1868 upon the application and with the consent of such of the persons interested in any common … the Inclosure Commissioners are empowered by provisional order … to authorize the inclosure of such common, provided such inclosure is made on such terms and conditions as may appear to the Commissioners to be proper for the protection of any public interests, and provided also that the Commissioners are of opinion that such inclosure would be expedient, having regard as well to the health, comfort and convenience of the inhabitants of any cities, towns, villages or populous places in or near any parish in which the land proposed to be inclosed … may be situate (hereinafter included under the expression 'the benefit (sic) of the neighbourhood) …"

11. Section 7 sets out the terms and conditions which may need to be included in any order made so as to comply with the obligation to have regard to the benefits of the neighbourhood. Section 10 contains a number of rules which have to be observed by the Commissioners with respect to an application for a provisional order for the regulation or inclosure of a common. The rules would today be dealt with by means of regulations since they govern procedure. They require the publication of a notice of application by whatever means the Commissioners consider appropriate, provided that a notice is always to be inserted in at least one paper circulating in the neighbourhood (s.10(1)). The application must be in writing and be accompanied by a map (s.10(2)). Section 10(3) I should cite. It reads: -

"On making the application in respect of any common, the applicants shall furnish the … Commissioners in answer to questions previously submitted or otherwise in such manner as the … Commissioners may from time to time direct, with information bearing on the expediency of the application answered in relation to the benefit of the neighbourhood as well as to private interests".

S.10(4) sets out in more detail what must be dealt with in the evidence submitted and specifies that, "in the case of an application for inclosure, the applicants must identify the advantages to be derived from inclosure as opposed to regulation and the reasons why an inclosure is expedient when viewed in relation to the benefit of the neighbourhood".

Annihilating the Commons Commissioners by the very people who wished to sell off our forests must be a cause for concern

The Governement should sycamore rider-friendly policy !

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