Speaking on the contents of the (Access To The Countryside 2012) Bill, the ICMSA President, John Comer, said that, on the face of it, the Bill represented the most significant undermining of private property rights in the recent history of the State. Mr Comer said that, effectively, local authorities will be able to declare private property as being open to access upon being satisfied that certain criteria have been met. But Mr Comer observed that the criteria to be used by the local authorities is itself very questionable: “We note, for instance, that county councils will not be able to make a declaration that land is access land in respect of cultivated land. But what is their definition of ‘cultivated’?”
Mr Comer said that the Bill amounted to a ‘Hikers’ Hit-list’
“ICMSA has long warned that the debate about any so-called ‘Right to Roam’ was moving in a direction that had to end in a serious dilution of the rights of the farmers or landowners concerned. But not even in our wildest dreams did we ever see the State effectively empowering dozens of local authorities to ‘have a go’ at usurping the rights of private property through the enactment of this ‘Hikers’ Hit-list’ of a bill, which actually encourages local authorities to effectively become joint-owners of whatever private land they can identify within their districts and which ticks the boxes of this bill. It is a quite staggering full-on, assault on the constitutional rights of farmers and landowners and it will be met with a full-on defence”, said Mr Comer.
Ends 4 March 2013
John Comer, 087-2057846
Cathal MacCarthy, 087-6168758
ICMSA Press Office