David Miliband at Brow Moor, HaworthRamblers were joined today by a Government minister in a celebration of the first anniversary of right-to-roam laws.

Mr Miliband, left, with Kate Ashbrook and Keith Wadd, chairman of the West Riding Ramblers' Association group

Environment Secretary David Miliband took to the Yorkshire moors with the Ramblers’ Association (RA) chairman Kate Ashbrook to mark the first full year of the access rights in England and Wales.

They were joined by representatives of local rambling groups and the Youth Hostels Association in a brief yomp across Brow Moor, overlooking the Bronte village of Haworth. The moor was among the first to be opened up under the Countryside and Rights of Way Act (CRoW Act) in September 2004, giving walkers and climbers legal rights to use open countryside.

 In a ceremony at the village’s youth hostel before the walk, Mr Miliband was presented with a set of guide books written by right-to-roam author Andrew Bibby. They were also joined by Keighley MP Ann Cryer, who had supported the Bill during its parliamentary passage.

Kate Ashbrook said: “One year on from the fruition of the new rights to walk on open land throughout England, we can celebrate what a great achievement this was.

“Here in Yorkshire, the gains are particularly significant. The Government deserves thanks for winning us this wonderful new freedom, which is benefiting thousands who may now walk where it was forbidden before.”

Mr Miliband said: “It is wonderful that everyone now has the right to walk freely across so much of our beautiful countryside and to experience and enjoy some truly lovely scenery.

“The new right of access has been a success and I thank everyone for their commitment to making this work.”

The CRoW Act was the result of more than 60 years campaigning for access to open land which included the historic Kinder Scout mass trespass in April 1932 in the Peak District. Scotland introduced superior right-to-roam legislation with the Land Reform (Scotland) Act, which gives the right to wild camping, water navigation and other freedoms not included in the English and Welsh law.

The RA is now stepping up its campaign for a right of access to England and Wales’s coastline.

  •  Less than five miles from the site of the minister’s visit, campaigners have won the first stage of a battle to stop a quarry company extending into CRoW access land.

Bradford Council’s Shipley area committee refused to grant permission for Midgeham
Cliffe End Quarry to sink test bore holes with a view to using Harden Moor to quarry Yorkshire gritstone. The company wants to buy the land from the council. The committee passed the decision on to the council’s full executive with a recommendation that it note the strong public opposition to the quarry’s proposals.

828 names have been added to petitions opposing the quarry extension, with a counter petition of 229 in favour, 34 of which were of people employed by a company linked to Midgeham Cliffe End Quarry. Bradford Council’s countryside and rights of way service opposes the plan and the Open Spaces Society has supported residents’ battle against the drilling.

The Society’s general secretary Kate Ashbrook, who is also chairman of the Ramblers’ Association, said: “We have called on Bradford Council to abandon any plans of selling this wonderful moor. 

“This stretch of land is of immense importance to local people and visitors. It is of particular value being a significant area of open space close to urban communities, who need this vital breathing space.

“It has been recorded as open-access land under the Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000, and the public has the legal right to walk over every square inch of it and to enjoy it for quiet recreation. It would be a tragedy if it were to be sacrificed for quarrying.”