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Reclaiming the Rural Artefact: The Role of Aesthetics, Environmentalism and Food Security in the Emergence of the Law on Open Access

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Journal publication date2010
JournalLaw and Humanities
Number of pages23
Original languageEnglish


The Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000 and the Marine and Coastal Access Act 2009 have both opened sections of the countryside for recreational access, but have also been used as vehicles for the introduction of new environmental law. In drafting the Acts, legislators have included provisions which maintain a balance between private property rights, open access, the interests of agriculture and the conservation of the environment. This paper contends that this attempt to strike a balance between access and the environment has created a new species of environmental regulation, one which balances rights with responsibilities and recognises the additional benefit of access to the countryside as an educator on the environment and rural affairs. Where competing interest groups have formed a consensus on rights of access, it is through a common recognition of the importance of access to the countryside as a vehicle for these secondary benefits.