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Next step - right to roam?

Next step - right to roam?

National's Agriculture spokesman David Carter says farmers have every reason to be nervous of moves to free up private land for public access.

"There's little in the long-awaited Land Access Report that signals any respect for private property rights.

"Rather, it's the start of the erosion of them," says Mr Carter.

"This report, with its talk of encouraging "negotiated solutions for access across private land" and finding ways to "improve current legislation provisions for access" signals the Government's intention to ride rough shod over landowners' rights.

"It will make farmers very nervous. Jim Sutton talks of a four-month consultation period, but all he's doing is softening up the agricultural sector for the inevitable - wander at will legislation," says Mr Carter.

"Jim Sutton knows the votes lie in the cities when he talks of the population being overwhelmingly urban.

"This is why he's quick to provide an assurance to homeowners that their private property rights will be protected.

"But why isn't he providing the same guarantee to farmers who should surely have the first say on who goes on their land, and under what circumstances?

"The reference group may not have signalled any support for the 'right to roam' policy adopted overseas - but it's clear where this Government is heading," says Mr Carter.

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