Helping you understand Welsh law

Countryside and access

The law in respect of countryside and access mainly deals with 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, (NPACA 1949) which established a system of public access to the countryside. The Act provides for the designation of national parks and the establishment of national park authorities.

The provisions of this Act were further enhanced by the Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000 (CRWA 2000). The CRWA 2000 created the Wales coastal path, amended the law relating to public rights of way, enabling traffic regulation orders to be made to conserve an area’s natural beauty, and also made provisions on driving mechanically propelled vehicles elsewhere than on roads. 

The law in relation to national parks is generally to be found in the NPACA1949, which provides for the designation of national parks and the establishment of national park authorities.

The CRWA 2000 also contains the law in relation to AoNBs in that, the Act provides for the designation of areas (not in a national park) which are of outstanding natural beauty.

The law in respect of the Common land is largely governed by the Commons Act 2006. Common land is land which is owned by someone, but which other people are allowed to use in specific ways. The Act makes provisions about common land and town or village greens.

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