Statutory Rules of Northern Ireland
1996 No. 213
Countryside Access Regulations (Northern Ireland) 1996
23rd May 1996
Coming into operation
1st July 1996
The Department of Agriculture, being a Department designated(1) for the purposes of section 2(2) of the European Communities Act 1972(2) in relation to the common agricultural policy of the European Community, in exercise of the powers conferred on it by the said section 2(2) and by Article 3(1) and (2) of the Agriculture (Conservation Grants) (Northern Ireland) Order 1995(3) and of every other power enabling it in that behalf, and with the consent of the Department of Finance and Personnel in so far as it relates to payments under regulation 8, hereby makes the following Regulations:
Citation and commencement
1. These Regulations may be cited as the Countryside Access Regulations (Northern Ireland) 1996 and shall come into operation on 1st July 1996.
2.—(1) The Interpretation Act (Northern Ireland) 1954(4) shall apply to these Regulations as it applies to a Measure of the Northern Ireland Assembly.
(2) In these Regulations—
“access strategy document” means a document and maps prepared by a district council and agreed by the Department of the Environment which defines routes along which public access routes should be developed within that district;
“application” means an application under regulation 4;
“authorised person” means a person (whether or not an officer of the Department) authorised in writing by the Department for the purposes of regulation 9;
a person whose application has been accepted by the Department; or
a person who owns or rents any farmland or farm lane following a change of occupation thereof, who has given an undertaking to comply with the obligations relating to that farmland or farm lane assumed by the previous occupier and whose undertaking has been accepted by the Department;
“the Department” means the Department of Agriculture for Northern Ireland;
“Department of the Environment” means the Department of the Environment for Northern Ireland;
“eligible person” means a person who on the date of his application is the lawful owner or tenant of the farmland or the farm lane to which the application relates and which is situated in a district within which the district council has prepared an access strategy document;
“farm lane” means a lane used wholly or mainly by farmers, farm livestock and farm machinery for purposes connected with agriculture;
“field” means an area of land with an established boundary;
“farmland” means land used for arable cropping or grazing of farm livestock and includes grazed woodland;
“grazed woodland” means woodland which is comprised of either broadleaved or coniferous species or of both, the understorey of which is grazed by farm livestock;
“public access route” means a route through farmland or through a farm lane or through both farmland and a farm lane which for the time being is not a public right of way;
“tenant” means a person who occupies farmland or a farm lane under a contract of tenancy for a fixed term of years of which at least 10 years remain unexpired.
Aid for provision of access
3. Subject to the provisions of these Regulations, the Department may make payments of aid to any eligible person who gives both of the following undertakings:—
(a)to provide a public access route; and
(b)to observe the management requirements set out in the Schedule.
Application for aid
4.—(1) An application for aid under these Regulations shall be made at such time and in such form, and shall include or be accompanied by such information as the Department reasonably may require to enable it to decide whether to accept the application.
(2) An applicant shall provide such evidence showing the nature of his estate or interest in the farmland or farm lane as the Department may require.
Restrictions on acceptance of applications
5.—(1) The Department shall not accept an application from a tenant in relation to any farmland or farm lane unless it is satisfied that the tenant has notified the landlord of his intention to make the application.
(2) The Department may refuse to accept an application in relation to any farmland or farm lane where it is satisfied that:
(a)the use of any farmland or farm lane in accordance with the proposals contained in that application would frustrate the purposes of any assistance previously given or to be given out of money provided by or under any statutory provision or by the European Community; or
(b)the payment of aid under these Regulations would duplicate any assistance previously given or to be given out of money provided by or under any statutory provision or by the European Community.
Change of occupation
6.—(1) Where in the period of duration of the undertaking referred to in regulation 3 there is a change of occupation of the whole or any part of a beneficiary’s farmland or farm lane which is subject to management requirements set out in the Schedule—
(a)the beneficiary (or, if he has died, his personal representatives or the occupier of the farmland or farm lane) shall within 3 months notify the Department in writing of the change of occupation, and shall supply to the Department such information relating to that change of occupation in such form and within such period as the Department may reasonably determine;
(b)subject to the provisions of this regulation, the new occupier of that farmland or farm lane may give an undertaking to the Department to comply, for the remainder of that period with the obligations assumed by the original beneficiary.
(2) The Department shall not accept an undertaking from a new occupier of farmland or farm lane to comply with obligations assumed by a beneficiary unless it is satisfied that that new occupier occupies that farmland or farm lane as an owner or tenant or as the personal representative of that beneficiary.
(3) A new occupier who gives an undertaking to comply with the obligations assumed by the original beneficiary shall supply to the Department such information in such form and within such period following the change of occupation as the Department may reasonably determine.
(4) Where the Department has accepted an undertaking from a new occupier to comply with the obligations assumed by the original beneficiary his undertaking to comply with the such obligations shall be deemed to take effect on the date of the acceptance by the Department of that undertaking.
(5) Where within 3 months from the date of change of occupation a new occupier has not given an undertaking to comply with the obligations assumed by the original beneficiary, the Department may:
(a)withhold the whole or any part of any payments of aid under these Regulations due to the original beneficiary; and
(b)recover from that original beneficiary or his personal representatives the whole or any part of any payments of aid under these Regulations already made to him.
(6) Paragraph (5) shall not apply where the change of occupation of the farmland or farm lane is the result of:
(a)the compulsory purchase of the farmland or farm lane; or
(b)the death of the original beneficiary; and
(i)that original beneficiary occupied that farmland or farm lane as a tenant; and
(ii)that tenancy determined on the death of that original beneficiary or was terminated by the landlord following that death.
Amounts of aid and claims
7.—(1) Subject to the provisions of these Regulations the Department shall make payments of aid in respect of each year of the duration of the undertakings referred to in regulation 3.
(2) The Department shall make payments of aid at the following rates—
(a)where a public access route is a route only through farmland—
(i)£129 per annum for the first 0.5 hectare or part thereof; and
(ii)subject to paragraph (3), £50 per annum for each additional 0.5 hectare or part thereof;
(b)subject to sub-paragraph (c), where a public access route is a route through a farm lane, £65 per annum for each 0.25 hectare or part thereof;
(c)where a public access route is a route through both farmland and a farm lane, £65 per annum for each 0.25 hectare or part thereof.
(3) Payments made under paragraph (2)(a)(ii) and Regulation 8(2)(a) shall not exceed—
(a)£250 per annum where the length of the route is 0.5 kilometres or less;
(b)£350 per annum where the length of the route exceeds 0.5 kilometres but does not exceed 1 kilometre;
(c)£450 per annum where the length of the route exceeds 1 kilometre.
(4) A claim of each payment under this regulation or regulation 8 shall be made at such time and in such form and shall contain such information as the Department may reasonably require.
8.—(1) The Department shall, in addition to the payments specified in regulation 7, make payments of aid in respect of each year of the duration of the undertakings referred to in regulation 3.
(2) Additional payments under this regulation shall be made at the following rates—
(a)where a public access route is a route only through farmland, £21 per annum for the first 0.5 hectare or part thereof;
(b)subject to sub-paragraph (c) where a public access route is a route through a farm lane, £35 per annum for each 0.25 hectare or part thereof.
(c)where a public access route is a route through both farmland and a farm lane, £20 per annum for each 0.25 hectare or part thereof.
Obligation to permit entry and inspection
9.—(1) An applicant or beneficiary as the case may be shall permit any authorised person, accompanied by such other persons acting under the Department’s instructions as appear to that authorised person to be necessary for the purpose, at all reasonable times and on production on demand of the authorised person’s authority, to enter upon any farmland or farm lane for the purpose of:
(a)carrying out an inspection thereof or of any document or record in the possession or under the control of the applicant or beneficiary relating to, or which the authorised person may reasonably suspect relates to, an application, with a view to verifying the accuracy of any particulars given in an application or claim under regulation 7(4) or in any undertaking made by a new occupier pursuant to regulation 6(1)(b); and
(b)ascertaining whether a beneficiary has complied with any undertaking given by him under these Regulations.
(2) An applicant or beneficiary shall render all reasonable assistance to the authorised person in relation to the matters mentioned in paragraph (1), and in particular shall:
(a)produce such document or record as may be required by the authorised person for inspection;
(b)permit the authorised person to take copies or extracts from any such document or record;
(c)where any such document or record is kept by means of a computer, produce it in a form in which it may easily be read and taken away; and
(d)at the request of the authorised person, accompany him in making the inspection of any farmland or farm lane and identify any area of such farmland or farm lane which is concerned in any application or in any undertaking given by a new occupier under regulation 6(1)(b) to comply with the obligations undertaken by the original beneficiary.
Withholding and recovery of aid
10.—(1) Where any person with a view to obtaining the payment of aid under these Regulations to himself or any other person, makes any statement or furnishes any information which is false or misleading in a material particular, the Department may withhold the whole or any part of any aid payable to that person or to such other person, and may recover the whole or any part of any aid already paid to that person or to such other person.
(2) Where a beneficiary:
(a)fails without reasonable excuse to comply with any of his obligations under these Regulations; or
(b)fails without reasonable excuse to permit entry or inspection by an authorised person or to render all reasonable assistance to such authorised person as required by regulation 9,
the Department may withhold the whole or any part of any aid under a scheme payable to that beneficiary, and may recover the whole or any part of any such aid already paid to him.
(3) Before withholding or recovering any aid under regulation 6(5), or paragraph (1) or (2), the Department shall:
(a)give to the beneficiary a written explanation of the reasons for the proposed withholding or recovery or aid; and
(b)afford the beneficiary an opportunity of appearing before and being heard by a person appointed for that purpose by the Department; and
(c)consider the report by the person so appointed and supply a copy of the report to the beneficiary.
11.—(1) A person who, for the purposes of obtaining for himself or any other person any aid under regulation 7, knowingly or recklessly makes a statement which is false or misleading in a material particular, shall be guilty of an offence.
(2) A person guilty of an offence under paragraph (1) shall be liable on summary conviction to a fine not exceeding level 5 on the standard scale.
(3) Proceedings for an offence under paragraph (1) may be brought within a period of 6 months from the date on which evidence sufficient in the opinion of the Department to justify proceedings came to its knowledge.
(4) A certificate purporting to be signed for the purposes of paragraph (3) on behalf of the Department shall be conclusive evidence of the date on which evidence sufficient to justify proceedings came to the knowledge of the Department.
Sealed with the Official Seal of the Department of Agriculture on .
23rd May 1996
The Department of Finance and Personnel hereby consents to the foregoing regulations in so far as they relate to payments under regulation 8.
Sealed with the Official Seal of the Department of Finance and Personnel on .
J. G. Sullivan
23rd May 1996
Regulations 3(b) and 6(1)
1. The beneficiary shall make the public access route available to the public without charge.
2. The beneficiary shall maintain free and safe passage over the public access route.
3. The beneficiary shall not erect new fences, plant trees, apply pesticides or undertake land improvements on or adjacent to the public access route without the prior written approval of the Department.
4. The beneficiary shall keep the public access route and fields crossed by it substantially free of litter or other refuse.
5. The beneficiary shall exclude all bulls over 10 months of age from the public access route and from any field crossed by such public access route.
6. The beneficiary shall provide and maintain adequate means of entry and facilities necessary to the effective use of the public access route.
7. The beneficiary shall not permit any of the following activities on the public access route or on fields crossed by it: camping, caravanning, organised games or sports, use of motor vehicles (except for motor vehicles used for agricultural operations on the land), or any other activity likely to have a detrimental effect upon the environment, without the prior written approval of the Department.
8. The beneficiary shall not permit the riding of horses or cycles on the public access route, except to the extent given in the prior written permission of the Department.
9. The beneficiary shall not close the public access route to the public other than for a number of days specified in accordance with the prior written permission of the Department. At least two weeks before any day on which the public access route is to be closed to the public under this paragraph, the beneficiary shall cause to be erected at any entry point to that route appropriate signs giving notice of that closure.
10. The beneficiary shall effect public liability insurance cover of at least £1 million and shall maintain it for the duration of the undertakings referred to in regulation 3 and shall provide such evidence in relation to that insurance cover as the Department may require.
11. On or adjacent to the public access route the beneficiary shall retain existing field boundaries and shall not remove any hedge, bank, ditch, dyke or wall or any part thereof, except with the prior written permission of the Department and shall maintain such hedges only in accordance with the written advice of the Department.
(This note is not part of the Regulations.)
These Regulations make provision for the payment of aid to farmers who agree to provide access to the public through their farmland or farm lanes, pursuant to Article 2(1)(g) of Council Regulation (EEC) No. 2078/92 (O.J. No. L215, 30.7.92, p. 85) (“the Council Regulation”). Such aid is part of the zonal programme relating to Northern Ireland submitted by the United Kingdom to the European Commission pursuant to Article 3 of the Council Regulation. The European Commission in accordance with Article 7 of the Council Regulation approved this part of the programme in Commission Decision No. [C] (95) 1678 of 17th August 1995, a copy of which is available from the Department of Agriculture, Room 657, Dundonald House, Upper Newtownards Road, Belfast BT4 3SB.
(a)enable the Department to make payments of aid to eligible persons who give undertakings to provide a public access route and observe certain management requirements (regulation 3 and the Schedule);
(b)specify the requirements in relation to applications for aid and the documents to accompany such applications (regulation 4);
(c)specify restrictions on the acceptance of applications by the Department (regulation 5);
(d)make provision for the payment of aid to a new occupant where there has been a change in the occupation of farmland or a farm lane whether due to the death of a beneficiary or otherwise (regulation 6);
(e)specify the amount of aid payable and make provision in relation to claims for payment (regulations 7 and 8);
(f)confer on authorised persons powers of entry to carry out certain inspections for the purposes of the Regulations and require that reasonable assistance be given to such persons to enable them to exercise their functions (regulation 9);
(g)specify circumstances when the Department may withhold aid or recover payments of aid already made (regulation 10); and
(h)create offences in relation to the making of false or misleading statements and prescribe penalties (regulation 11).
1972 c. 68: section 2 is subject to Schedule 2 to that Act and is to be read with S.I. 1984/703 (N.I. 3) and S.I. 1994/2795 (N.I. 15)
S.I. 1995/3212 (N.I. 21)
1954 c. 33 (N.I.)