Helping you understand Welsh law

Countryside and access

This area of law covers access to the countryside, including statutory rights of access, coastal access, national parks, areas of outstanding natural beauty (AoNBs) and common land.

The law on access to the countryside is generally to be found in the National Parks and Access to the Countryside Act 1949, which established a system of public access to the countryside. These provisions were enhanced by the Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000, which was used to create the Wales coastal path.

The law in relation to national parks is generally to be found in the National Parks and Access to the Countryside Act 1949, which provides for the designation of national parks and the establishment of national park authorities

The law in relation to AoNBs is to be found in the Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000, which provides for the designation of areas (not in a national park) which are of outstanding natural beauty.

Common land is land which is owned by someone, but which other people are allowed to use in specific ways. The law in relation to common land is largely governed by the Commons Act 2006.

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