Local people and visitors have a say in how access to the countryside is being developed through the Cumbria Local Access Forum, introduced as part of the Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000.
The primary role of the Cumbria Local Access Forum is to provide advice to Cumbria County Council and to Natural England on how to make the countryside more accessible and enjoyable for open-air recreation, in ways which address social, economic and environmental interests. The Forum encourages and assists access provision.
It gives advice on four main topics:
a) development of integrated recreation and access strategies which cater for a wide range of people;
b) strategic improvements to the rights of way network and related plans;
c) implementation, management and review of the statutory rights of access to the countryside; and
d) the development and implementation of information and educational strategies.
In providing this advice the Cumbria Local Access Forum has regard to:
a) the needs of land management;
b) the desirability of conserving the natural beauty of the area for which it is established, including flora, fauna and geological and physiographical features of the area;
c) guidance, including this document, given from time to time by the Secretary of State.
The Forum is a balanced group which avoids being dominated by single interests. It is representative of all interests, including recreation use, land management, nature conservation, tourism and business, transport, education, access for all and health. The Forum holds meetings in public every quarter.