Monday, 14 June 2010



Walking and working for a people’s countryside


Press release, 12th June 2010.

Contact Dave: T. 01273 620 815, or Kim: T. 0771 716 0530,

Today a bunch of walkers from as far away as Dorset and the Chilterns walked the forbidden Access Land site of Breaky Bottom farm and vineyard, near Rodmell, to say:

“Two fingers to the selfish landowner who wishes to remove a right of access that has taken 130 years to secure”.

They had with them Kate Ashbrook, Gen. Sec. of the Open Spaces Society and doughty fighter against Nicholas Hoogstraten’s footpath stopping antics, and Marion Shoard, the author whose books highlighting the destruction of the countryside and the inequities of landownership have turned around the politics of the countryside in the last generation.

Sixty walkers and their children, with folk from the Ramblers Association, Red Rope, and The Land Is Ours, watched as we symbolically fenced the steep slope of a tiny chalk pit which the landowner has been using as his excuse for excluding the public from this statutory Access Land site. We decorated the new fence with our ribbons, banners and placards.

Despite owning “the most fenced farm on the entire South Downs”, with every tiny paddock and vine row fenced or hedged, this landowner so far refuses to fence this chalk pit because its presence as a safety hazard constitutes the excuse he needs to secure a Restriction Order forbidding us access to this ancient flowery pasture.

Kate Ashbrook in her speech said: “It is outrageous that we are banned from this lovely site. The Access Land on the Downs is pitifully sparse in any case. Breaky Bottom is the entry point to a delightful but very under-used part of the Downs, and is only a short distance from the South Downs Way. All the landowner needed to do was to put about 70 metres of fencing around the quarry to comply with the requirements for making Access Land safe for the public”.

Marion Shoard called for “a right of respectful access everywhere in the countryside, as already exists in Scotland.”

Dave Bangs, of Action For Access, said. “The landowner wants his right to privacy, even though he already lives in one of the remotest and most under-visited parts of the South Downs. Yet what about the rights to enjoy the countryside and nature which all those millions of us cooped up in our cities, towns and villages need for our health and recreation ? Wealth and land ownership should not be what determines our right to enjoy the countryside.”

Our campaign is determined to return and return again to Breaky Bottom until we see Lewes District Council and Natural England secure the permanent fencing of this little chalk pit and the consequent re-opening of this site to public access.

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