Crow Countryside Rights of Way.

The countryside rights of way act, abbreviated as Crow, was brought into force by parliament in the year 2000.  The act applies to both England and Wales.  The act centres around the opening up of public access on a number of types of land.  The act also helps protect sites of special scientific interest as well as helping reinforce existing wildlife legislation.

The access to the countryside aspect of the act sets out to grant the public access on foot to a number of different land types.  The act stipulates that the land must be open land comprising of either moorland, heath, down or mountainous terrain.  The act does however also consider land owners ensuring that a number of safeguards are in place to protect them.

There was much uncertainty prior to the passing of the act as to which routes or areas were private and what areas were public.  This would often create numerous disputes between land owners and hikers.  The act helps outline areas which the public have a right to access as well as areas which remain private.  The act also acts to divert current public rights of way to protect sites of special scientific interest.

A large motivating factor behind the implementation of the act was the promotion of biodiversity.  The act aims to enforce a number of steps which are in line with the convention of biological diversity and their view regarding the natural environment.  The main way in which biodiversity is promoted is through the expansion and more aggressive protection of SSSI’s.  The act grants local authorities with greater power in regards to prosecuting those who cause damage to the natural environment.  The act also strengthens aspects of the existing wildlife and countryside act, in order to help protect threatened species.  Much harsher penalties are set to be dished out to those who commit offenses against wildlife.  Examples may include those who snatch eggs from endangered species to poachers.

The final area of the act centres around the conservation of areas of outstanding natural beauty.  The act attempts to clarify why areas of outstanding natural beauty exist and how they should be looked after.  The act sets up conservation boards who are to be responsible for areas of outstanding natural beauty.  The act also ensures that all authorities act in the interest of preserving these areas when making decisions.

To overall affect of the CROW act is a large expansion regarding the areas in which walkers may visit.  The act is especially relevant to the Peak District National Park due to the vast amount of privately owned land within the park, compared to many other national parks.