Special Environmental Sites and Schemes

15. Countryside Access Scheme

This was a voluntary scheme operating in England and Wales with the objective of encouraging farmers to provide public access to suitable set-aside land for walking and quiet recreation. The scheme provided for permissive access only and did not create permanent rights of way.

The scheme aimed to permit public access to routes along field margins, or to open sites on whole or part fields. Many sites provided vantage points for attractive features, or are sites of historical or wildlife interest. The access routes could serve as a link between two or more existing public rights of way, or created new circular walks of at least 1.5 kilometres; the open field sites could provide picnic and recreation areas. To ensure value for money, the scheme was targeted on land that the public was likely to want to use, either because it is attractive or because it offered opportunities for access in areas where this it was otherwise limited.

In 1997 the scheme management was integrated with that for Countryside Stewardship, a logical step towards standardising the management of all access schemes, keeping running costs to a minimum and simplifying administration. As a stand-alone scheme it is not now open for new applications.

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