The CLA today (16 March) said it welcomed Defra's decision to continue annual revenue payments for some educational access visits within Higher Level Stewardship (HLS) but argued that permissive access is valued just as much by the public.
CLA President William Worsley said: "Allowing young people to learn about the countryside is very important so I am pleased the annual payments for educational visits have been reinstated. However, permissive access should not be overlooked.
"Most permissive access was put together in discussions between local walkers, horse riders and landowners so it is highly valued by local communities. The Government seems to think farmers and landowners should feel obliged as part of the Big Society to maintain access for free but this was not part of the contract we entered into when permissive access routes were agreed under agri-environment schemes."
"The Government should rethink permissive access and introduce a payment rate that meets the needs of local communities while achieving value for money in this time of austerity."
Mr Worsley added: "Surely it makes more sense to fund these locally demanded access routes rather than spending much larger sums on creating the All-England Coastal Path when most of the coast is already covered by legal and permissive access?"