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This chapter summarises a variety of significant conservation regimes that are active in the study area. In October 1993 the Environmental and Countryside Planning Unit of the University of Wales identified 28 special measures pertinent to landscape or wildlife conservation generally.[1] This is indicative of the complexities of countryside management. Those management regimes identified in this chapter supplement those identified in Chapter 2 and focus on those whose remit directly impinges on outdoor recreation and environmental resources. The broad subject areas that the regimes exert influence over are ecology, landscape, recreation and archaeology. Each subject area is interactive with the others and some regimes have multiple roles. Table 3:8 provides a summary of roles but in the main text, each management regime is treated separately in the following order.

 1.   Countryside Heritage Sites
 2.   Sites of Special Scientific Interest
 3.   National Nature Reserves
 4.   Scheduled Ancient Monuments
 5    Archaeologically Sensitive Areas
 6.   Areas of Archaeological Potential
 7.   English Heritage Sites
 8.   National Trust
 9.   Local & County Authority/Public Domain Ownership.
 10. Conservation Areas
 11. Trees and Woodland Protection
 12. Buildings of Special Archaeological or Historic Interest.
 13. Special Bird Protection Areas
 14. Local Nature Reserves
 15. Marine Nature Reserves and Conservation Areas
 16. Heritage Coast
 17. Forest Enterprise
 18. Royal Society for Protection of Birds
 19. Footpaths, Bridleways and Byways
 20. Commons
 21. Sites of Nature Conservation importance
 22. Hedgerow Schemes
 23. Major Estates and Historic Parks

1.Countryside Heritage Sites.

This is a Hampshire County Council measure to protect sites of Archaeological and Ecological importance within the East Hampshire AONB.[2] Being in Hampshire, which is outside the study core area, the relevance is minimal at present but may well become significant with the extension of the remit of the SDCB in due course.

2. Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSIs).

Under the National Parks and Access to the Countryside Act, 1949 and subsequently under the Wildlife and the Countryside Act, 1981, the Nature Conservancy Council had a remit to determine sites which, because of their special fauna, flora, geological or physiographical characteristics, should be conserved. Under the 1981 Act, landowners are informed of the sites and of any operations that may be damaging. The notification is a registered land charge.[3] Four months notice is required of any potentially damaging activities and during that period an agreement is sought to prevent or reduce operations. If no agreement is reached after four months the operations can proceed.[4] Recently the NCC has been replaced with English Nature which is part of the Countryside Commission. English Nature provides advice and financial support on a limited basis.

By 1990, SSSIs covered about 16,270 sq.km. representing seven percent of the land in Great Britain. In 1987/88 the NCC spent UK pounds 4.5m on management agreements.[5]

The SSSI protection was notoriously ineffective in the early years and it was hoped that the 1981 Act would strengthen it. Such organisations as the Council for the Protection of National Parks continue to voice concern about the lack of any lasting benefit of SSSIs on the Downland.[6] There are numerous problems, the principal ones being:

 a) Sites are not necessarily maintained in their original usage state. The characteristics of the site thus change over time.

 b) There is no ultimate preventive power and this has resulted in numerous sites being lost over time. The number of sites lost has arguably reduced and is now running at about one percent per annum.[7]

 c) Management agreements are for fixed periods, there is thus the need to continually renew.

East Sussex has a total of 48 SSSIs and West Sussex has 59,[8] not all on Downs.[9] There are 37 sites on the Sussex Downs as follows in Table 3:1. Sussex Wildlife Trust identify 5,548 hectares of SSSI on the Sussex Downs.[10]

The characteristics of the 37 sites reflect the special nature of the Downland. Many of the sites are also designated in other ways, for example, Lewes Down is a National Nature Reserve and a Nature Conservation Review Site. It is also part of a reserve of the Sussex Trust for Nature Conservation. The designation SSSI provides no indication as to land ownership, many of the sites identified are on private property and do not enjoy public access.

Downland SSSIs.

site ref - location                                     hectares - characteristics

TQ/30-2   Castle Hill,Lewes                  113.5 chalk grassland
TQ/31-1   Clayton/Offham                     429.6 escarpment
TQ/40-5   Firle                                        301.3 chalk grassland
TQ/50-10 Folkington Reservoir                5.7 orchid habitat
TQ/30-3   Kingston/Iford                          64.4 chalk grassland
TQ/40-9   Lewes Brooks                       330.0 floodplain
TQ/40-1   Lewes Down NNR/NCRS    149.8 habitat island
TQ/50-4   Lullington Heath                       71.7 chalk heath
TV/59-1   Seaford/Beachy Head        1090.8 geo/bio diversity
TQ/40-10 Southerham Grey Pit                8.7 geological site
TQ/50-7  Willingdon Down                      60.2 chalk grassland
TQ/50-4  Wilmington Downs                 208.2 chalk grassland
TQ/01-7  Amberley/Sullington               181.2 juniper scrub
TQ/01-5  Amberley Wild Brooks          322.6 grazing marsh
SU/91-3  Ambersham Common           134.3 heathland
TQ/00-2  Arun Banks                               25.1 abandoned meander
TQ/00-1  Arundel Park                          140.5 bird habitat
TQ/21-1  Beeding/Newtimber              272.9 geo/bio diversity
SU/91-1  Burton Park                              43.2 open water
TQ/11-1 Chanctonbury Hill                      78.6 chalk grassland
TQ/10-1 Cissbury Ring                            81.9 chalk grassland
SU/91-2 Duncton/Bignor                       186.0 beech escarpment
SU/81-5 East Dean Park Wood             18.2 chalk valley wood
SU/90-1 Fairmile Bottom                        68.0 scrub/grassland
SU/82-1 Fyning Moor                              12.7 alder wood
SU/81-3 Harting Downs                       351.1 grassland & wood
SU/81-2 Heyshott Down                         42.2 chalk grassland
SU/82-2 Iping Common                        124.6 heathland
SU/81-4 Kingley Vale                           209.4 yew woodlands
SU/91-5 Lavington Common                 30.7 lowland heath
SU/81-6 Levin Down                              27.7 chalk grassland
SU/71-4 Pads Wood                             21.7 ancient woodland
SU/81-8 Singleton/Cocking                    1.2 bat tunnels
SU/81-1 Treyford/Bepton Down        122.3 grassland/yews
SU/81-7 West Dean Woods                17.3 oak/hazel wood
SU/71-5 West Harting Down                13.9 mature yew wood
TQ/21-3 Wolstonbury Hill                      58.6 chalk downland

                              Total Hectares     5419.8.

Table 3:1         (Source: English Nature, Lewes, 8/3/93)
3. National Nature Reserves.

These are sites designated under the 1981 Wildlife and Countryside Act which are managed for nature conservation.[11] The sites are particularly important and managed under agreements with English Nature. In 1990 there were 230 sites in Great Britain covering 1,650 sq.km.[12]

The following NNRs are recorded on the Sussex Downs[13]:-

Kingly Vale on the western downs is a NNR of 146 ha. It is predominantly a Yew Grove. Part of this reserve is on the West Dean Estates.

Lewes Down includes a 49 ha NNR on Mount Caburn with freedom to roam, see Table 3:1.

Lullington Heath, 62 hectares of chalk heath east of Alfriston, with access as rights of way only

Castle Hill, a 190 hectare chalk grassland dry valley owned by Brighton Borough Council of which 47 ha is a NNR. Access is by rights of way only.

Sources: see footnote [14]
4. Scheduled Ancient Monuments.

Such sites are designated under the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Areas Act 1979, by the Secretary of State for the Environment in conjunction with English Heritage. The schedule comprises areas of National importance which are then given statutory protection. Any proposed works or new disturbance on the site requires planning permission and scheduled monument permission.[15] The definitive records are retained by English Heritage who are in the process of a major updating of the schedules. Copies are also held by County Archaeologists.

Although the Act provides for unlimited penalties for damaging monuments, one weakness of the legislation is that there is no management provision. As a result nature can take its course if allowed, to the detriment of the remains. Damage can also be done by unauthorised metal detector treasure hunters and footpath erosion. Long term ploughing can have an erosive effect where earthworks are involved and the Act can not prevent such practices where they were carried out before scheduling. Conversion to freedom to roam access and use therefore has some attraction for sites under threat as a result of existing potentially damaging use.[16]

There are about 350 sites on the West Sussex Downs and about 180 on the East Sussex Downs making about 530 in the core study area. These include extensive Iron Age Forts and Hill Camps as well as smaller Tumuli. Not all are necessarily ancient and in the case of Sussex, the Astradome WWII Trainer at Shoreham Airfield is included. Such a scheduling illustrates the overlap with listed building protection. The general delineation is that scheduling does not occur on residential property. Martello Towers, converted to residential use are just one of the inevitable exceptions to every rule. Where gardens are involved there can also be an overlap of interest with English Nature.

The number of SAMs on the Downland greatly exceeds the density of similar sites elsewhere. Two thirds of all SAMs in Sussex are found on the Downs.[17] This illustrates the importance of SAMs as an integral part of the Downland topography and heritage.

5. Archaeologically Sensitive Areas.

The County Archaeologists prepare and maintain a register of unscheduled monuments where it is likely that there are significant remains of local or national interest.  The sites have precise mapped boundaries which usually conform to existing plot boundaries. The recording of a site has no influence in matters other than planning unless by voluntary agreement with a land owner. In the event of a planning matter affecting the site an appropriate course of action is negotiated with the developer. This may vary from a preliminary field investigation, a monitoring and recording from any groundwork carried out, or in special circumstance a rescue dig or scheduling. This is a joint process with the County Archaeologists and English Heritage.[18]

There are about 1,000 ASAs on the West Sussex Downs and about 400 ASAs on the East Sussex Downs, this gives a total of about 1,400 for the core study region.

6. Areas of Archaeological Potential.

This is not a site designation but a general term for sites that may reveal interesting archaeologically significant remains. The land owner may well be unaware. It enables any proposed planning matter to take account of possible archaeological potential and any excavations to be monitored. It has no statutory or planning power or authority. There is no register of such sites.[19]

One particular usage that this terminology has been applied to is in the identification and delineation of the ESA, using aerial photography. This illustrates the importance of the Downland as a reservoir of both known and potential sites of archaeological interest.

7. English Heritage sites.

These are sites which have been taken over by English Heritage, known previously as the The Commission on Historic Monuments and Buildings. The commission's primary statutory duty is to secure the preservation of ancient monuments and historic buildings situated in England.[20] As such about 400 castles, abbeys and historic houses etc are managed and open to the public. In 1989 they attracted 5 million visitors and in 1990/91 the budget for English Heritage was UK pounds 34m. This was separate from money spent on museums and galleries.[21]

There is an associated consumer organisation with membership of about 300,000.

The only site that falls within the Downland is Bramber Castle.[22] This is a Norman Castle ruin, 76 feet high on a natural mound which is an "open" site. Visitor numbers are not known.[23] (see National Trust below)

In October 1992, English Heritage announced their intention to dispose of the management responsibility for a large number of sites. Much press controversy ensued including fears expressed about the future of Bramber Castle.[24]

8. National Trust.

The National Trust was founded in 1895 as a conservation organisation and operates in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. Under the National Trust Act of 1907 it is empowered to declare its properties inalienable. This ensures that any compulsory purchase can require Parliamentary approval. Also such properties cannot be sold or mortgaged.[25]

The Trust is one of the largest conservation organisations in the U.K. Its purpose is the protection of places of historic and natural beauty. It is a charity and depends on voluntary support and membership.[26] Membership has consistently increased over the last decade and was stated as 2,186,000 in the 1992 accounts.[27]

The Trust owns more than 570,000 acres which includes buildings of historic importance, coastline and natural landscape. It is custodian of many ancient monuments and its properties include canals and significant parts of villages. Much of the Trust's property is open to members and the public.[28] In Sussex a number of conservation projects are being pursued by the Trust, seeking financial partnership from the SDCB. Most sites are expected to expand in the future.

Chalk Downland owned by the Trust in Sussex comprises 3,451 ha. which amounts to the greater part of the holdings identified in Table 3:2.[29] Much effort is now directed by the Trust into the conservation and generation of chalk grassland pasture. Utilising many of the skills of the modern agri-industry the Trust now finds itself in a position of new style farmer, cultivating species not for commercial food production but instead for conservation. The National Trust owns or covenants the Downland properties identified in Table 3:2.


E. Sussex.
Monks House, Rodmell         000.75ha.  5000 visitors pa.
Telscombe                              321.74 
Ditchling Beacon(in SSSI)    001.99
Exceat                                      002.99
Clergy Ho. Alfriston.               000.20     26,408
Crowlink                                  260.71
Lookout Hill                             024.02
Birling Gap                              002.53     100,000+
Frog Firle Farm                      187.37
Chyngton Farm                      116.55
Blackcap/Mount Harry          252.13

Wolstonbury Hill                    083.54ha.   
Newtimber Hill                      123.55   
Fulking Escarpment            179.89  ** 
Southwick Hill                       061.92  **
Shoreham Gap                    178.87
Bramber Castle                   004.85  **
Cissbury Ring                      049.78  **
Slindon Estate                   1423.91
Drovers Estate                     428.17
Harting Down                       228.04
Pangdean Farm                  032.38

Total Trust Hectares          3965.68

** = high visitor pressure but precise numbers not known.

Table 3:2                        source: see footnote [30]


Adjacent to Harting Down is the Trust property of Uppark House which attracted 32,000 visitors p.a. before being partially destroyed by fire due to builder negligence.[31] Eventual restoration will enable the property to be reopened, this is scheduled for June 1995.[32]

A very successful South Downs Appeal is being organised by the Trust with the objective of securing UK pounds 1m in three years for the purchase of key Downland sites as well as providing for maintenance and research on acquired properties.[33] Blackcap/Mount Harry near Lewes, was purchased as a result in Dec. 1993.[34] Kill Devil copse near South Harting is also under negotiation.[35] Further imminent acquisitions are now being debated as a result of the 1995 announcement by Brighton Council that they plan to dispose of part of their extensive land holding on the Downs. (see section 9 which follows) Key sites under consideration are Saddlescombe Farm and Devil's Dyke.[36]

9. Local & County Authority/Public Domain Ownership:

There is debate about the powers used and covenants associated with the acquisition of land in public ownership - particularly relating to public access. This suggests that current uses may in some instances be ultra vires.

Eastbourne Borough Council in 1926 purchased 1619 hectares of Downland around Beachy Head to prevent the erection of coastal bungalows.[37] This consists of a single site stretching from Belle Tout in the south to the Eastbourne boundary in the east, Eastdean in the west and Chalk Farm in the north. In 1990 about twenty five percent of this land was open Downland with public access, the balance was farmland.

In 1990, the Beachy Head Hotel was purchased enabling a more effective implementation of the Downland Management Plan. Improvements in the Visitor Centre facilities and more sympathetic site development have resulted. Ownership ensures a policy of land management sympathetic to the ideals established by the Council. A full time ranger is employed together with maintenance and rubbish clearing contractors. In addition shepherds tending their own sheep maintain close cropped pasture.

The site is partially an SSSI, there are twenty six designated Archaeologically Sensitive Areas, the site has twenty six Scheduled Ancient Monuments and a listed building.[38] This area is estimated to accommodate over 1 million visitors per annum.[39]

Brighton Corporation owns a large tract of Downland around Patcham. This amounts to 5,666 hectares, mostly farmed. In 1992, 3 acres were disposed of for the development of a hospice at Patcham. At the same time Coney Hill was declared a public open space.[40] Stanmer Park is part of Brighton's land holding near the University of Sussex. It comprises park and woodland with facilities for the public.

The history of this land purchase by Brighton is worthy of detailed consideration and will be referred to later. Suffice to say at this stage that, perceiving a threat to water catchment areas in the 1920s from cess pits associated with speculative building, Brighton secured a Bill enabling land to be acquired. Much controversy surrounded the Brighton Corporation Water Bill of 1924 and hidden agendas were suspected, particularly the eventual use of land for building and organised recreation. The acquisition was part of a general policy of land purchase outside the Corporation's boundaries.[41]

Both the Eastbourne and Brighton land holdings have limited public access. This prompts the question, what is the justification for holding this land bank primarily for farming which provides a low return on capital invested? This may in turn precipitate an argument for enhanced public access as a retention justification.

Early in February 1995 the national news media carried the story that Brighton Council were considering disposing of approximately 1,820 ha. of their Downland land holding. Eight sites are under consideration including Devil's Dyke. Likely interested purchasers are a consortium of land owners and the National Trust. The sale is prompted by financial considerations resulting from Government regulations on loan capital. A broadcast response by the SDCB and CPRE identified the important role that the land has for visitor recreation, quoting data from this thesis to support the argument.[42]

Part of Telscombe village is an estate left to the people of Brighton in 1933 by Ambrose Gorham. It is administered through a Trust.[43]

Horsham District Council own a tract of land near Storrington.

Hove own land in the vicinity of Foredown Tower.

Adur District Council own about 400 ha. to the north of Shoreham, the result of a planning gain.

Lewes District Council own up to 110 ha. at Seaford Head, designated a Local Nature Reserve. In addition, in 1992, Lewes aquired 53 ha at Landport Bottom, west of Lewes. The intention is to include freedom to roam in the management plan.[44]

East Sussex County Council owns 283 hectares at the Seven Sisters Country Park which has full public access. This was extended in 1993 by the purchase of 17 ha of Chyngton Farm.[45] Together with a further 121.4 hectares at Seaford Head,[46] these areas now come under the remit of the Conservation Board.

West Sussex County Council manage 29 sites within the remit of the Sussex Downs Conservation Board. Not all of these come within the study region being off the Downland. The significant ones on the Downland include:


 Harting Down                                            200 hectares
 Goodwood and Trundle Country Park      75 hectares
 Levin Down                                                 50 hectares
 Halnaker Mill                                                 1 hectare
 Fairmile Bottom                                         58 hectares
 Whiteways Picnic Site                                 5 hectares
 Amberley Meadows                                     8 hectares
 Chanctonbury Picnic Site                            2 hectares
 Beggars Bush                                               2 hectares
 Devils Dyke                                                   2 hectares

                                                         total    403 hectares

Table 3:3                    Source: see footnotes [28][29].
In addition to the above there are numerous access agreements, lay-bys and viewpoints, often resulting from local conservation projects with WSCC.[47] These sites are strategically important for tourism.[48] For example, in conjunction with Goodwood Estates, the Goodwood Country Park has recently been the subject of an improvement programme which includes infrastructure upgrading as well as the provision of educative facilities.[49]

Southern Water Services are obliged to provide recreational facilities at reservoirs under the Water Industry Act 1991, (section 3). They have four reservoirs in East Sussex but none lie within the Downland core study area.[50]

Whilst not strictly in the public domain, the Society of Sussex Downsmen owned 20 ha of Heyshott Down in West Sussex, a key site containing ancient grassland.[51] This site has now been transferred to the Murray Downland Trust. Similarly, Sussex Archaeological Society owns land on the Downs[52]

10. Conservation Areas.

These are areas of special architectural or historic interest in which the character and appearance are perceived as worthy of preservation or enhancement. Designation is by the local authority and the aims are enforced through existing planning controls which includes public advertising of any proposals. Often listed buildings are included within a conservation area.

A large number of Downland villages are conservation areas as well as town centres like Lewes. Designated villages include East Dean, Berwick, West Dean and Alfriston. Within East and West Sussex there are a total of 246 Conservation Areas.[53]

11. Tree and Woodland Preservation.

The Local Authority is empowered to make tree preservation orders. This requires permission of the Council before tree surgery or destruction can take place. Under the Felling Licence Regulations, owners of woodland are required to secure Forestry Authority approval for felling in excess of 5 sq.m. or 3 sq.m. if to be sold.

Small trees and coppices are unprotected by the above measures. Following the great storm of 1987 a Task Force Trees was set up which led to a "Trees and Woodland Strategy for East Sussex" prepared by East Sussex Woodland Forum. This includes management guidelines for incorporation into management plans.[54]

The woodland grant scheme, run by the Forestry Authority, provides grant aid for woodland planting. In addition the Special Management Grant for woods under 10 ha. provides incentives for public access.[55]

Lewes District for example, has about 250 tree preservation orders.[56]

An important scheme operated by the SDCB is the Dutch Elm Programme. This has resulted in a substantial population of surviving and re-established Elms, now of National significance, which considerably enhance the landscape of the AONB.[57]

12. Buildings of Special Archaeological or Historic Interest.

The Department of the Environment retains lists of buildings that are considered worthy of protection and conservation. There are three grades:

 1) Buildings of National importance or exceptional interest.

 2*) Buildings of regional interest due to unusual or quality features.

 2) Buildings of local importance but with the majority of the structure unaltered.

There is a further listing, known as local authority listing. This designation is when a building is perceived as an important component of the built environment having unusual or important architectural qualities.

Listed Building consent is required for the alteration of Dept of the Environment listed buildings and the Council is empowered, under extreme circumstances, to carry out repairs at the owner's expense. A variety of grant schemes cover listed buildings depending on their location. These are administered through the Local Authority.[58]

Indicative of the population of listed buildings are the following figures for East and West Sussex[59] where there are:

  Listed buildings:   19,310

  of which Grade One   363

13. Special Bird Protection Areas.

These are designated as Special Protected Areas (SPAS) under the EEC Birds Directive. In Great Britain the mechanisms of the 1981 Wildlife and Countryside Act are used to comply with this directive by the designation of SSSIs. A similar situation applies to wetlands conservation under the Ramsar Convention.

40 such sites were designated nationwide by 1990 aimed at protecting important bird habitats for endangered and migratory species.[60]

14. Local Nature Reserves and similar sites.

Local Nature Reserves are sites designated by the Local Authority, as being of particular importance for nature conservation. They are established under the 1981 Wildlife and Countryside Act. In 1990 167 such sites existed in Great Britain.[61]

Within East and West Sussex there are 15 Local Nature Reserves.[62]

At Seaford Head, 110 hectares have been designated as a LNR. Part in the ownership of Lewes District Council and part privately owned, it is managed by the SDCB.

The Sussex Wildlife Trust, a registered charity, owns/manages 35 Nature Reserves totalling 1903 hectares in Sussex. It is a major local wildlife organisation with a number of sites on the Downland as follows:


Ditchling Beacon    19.8 ha.  open access
(part SSSI leased from Ditchling Common and Tenantry Down Ltd. and National Trust)

Malling Down, Nr Lewes   37.7 ha.   open access
(A SSSI owned by the Trust)   

Saddlescomb, Nr Brighton    1.4 ha.  open access
(part of SSSI leased from Brighton Borough)

Levin Down, Nr Chichester  27.7 ha.  open access
(SSSI + management agreement with Goodwood Estates)

West Dean Woods, Nr Chichester 16.6 ha.  permit only
(SSSI leased from West Dean Estate)

Table 3:4                        source: see footnote [63]

Four of the reserves on the Downs are chalk grassland with a woodland reserve at West Dean.[64] Estimated hectareage on the Downland is 104 ha over which there is a general policy of public access.[65] 

Two data bases are coordinated by the Trust. The first is a record of all wildlife surveys in Sussex. The second is the identification of sites of Nature Conservation Importance. (see 21.)

The Trust is an independent organisation, founded in 1961, with funding from a variety of sources including Local Authorities, SDCB, sales, sponsorship, grants etc. [66] It has not been successful in securing major assistance from the Countryside Commission or English Nature. The Trust employs 24 full and part time staff. It operates under a Council elected by members with an Executive Committee. Staff are responsible to the Council. [67] [68]

In addition, Toddington Woodlanders have a 6 ha reserve at Small Dole near Woodsmill comprising ancient woodland.

Graffham Downs Trust have an area of scrub and grassland.

15. Marine Nature Reserves and Conservation Areas.

Marine Nature Reserves are established under the 1981 Wildlife and Countryside Act. By 1990 only two had been designated. English Nature seek voluntary cooperation from a wide range of sea users.[69]

A voluntary Marine Conservation Area is established for 1km off shore between the Eastbourne and Seaford Martello Towers. The powers are cooperative rather than enforced by statute. This area contains many wrecks, some dating back hundreds of years and including a German U Boat. At low tide some wrecks are accessible by pedestrians and the marine ranger runs guided walks. The ESCC draft Strategy for the East Sussex Coast calls for an extension of the Marine Conservation Area to 12 miles off shore.[70] Known as the Seven Sisters Voluntary Marine Conservation Area, (SSVMCA), the SDCB has management responsibility and a full time ranger.[71]

Sussex has a large number of outstanding off shore wrecks and East Sussex has recently commissioned a comprehensive guide to underwater archaeology.[72]

A further initiative comes through SCOPAC (Standing Conference on Problems with the Coastline) which represents coastal authorities from Lyme Regis to Shoreham. Grants for shoreline management are being sought from MAFF under the coast protection groups policy. Arun District Council is leading a move to extend the remit of SCOPAC including the implementation of management plans from Selsey Bill to Beachy Head.[73]

16. Heritage Coast.

The concept of Heritage Coast comes from "Coastal Preservation and Planning" by Steers, published in the 1940s. This was followed by the Countryside Commissions "Coastal Heritage" 1970. Although not included in any Act, between 1973 and 1986 some 1370 km had been designated.[74]

Management is by cooperation with land owners. Local Authorities prepare Heritage Coast Plans and the Countryside Commission act as the focal agency. It is anticipated that there will be some 44 sites in the UK protecting more than 900 miles of coastline. The National Trust own twenty nine percent of the Heritage Coast. Heritage Coast officers are partly funded by the Countryside Commission. Included in the Countryside Commissions policies and priorities for Heritage Coasts, are principals for tourism which relate to the countryside and National Parks generally.[75]

The coast west of Eastbourne and East of Seaford is designated Heritage Coast. This eight mile stretch is managed by the SDCB Marine Ranger. The beach is a highly prized area of natural features. The Countryside Commission notes that the cliff tops are being eroded by sheer visitor numbers.[76]

17. Forest Enterprise.

Forest Enterprise operates under the direction of the Forestry Commissioners and is responsible for the control and management of the national forests and complimentary forest estates. In 1982, the Forestry Commission was restructured, separating it's departmental and regulatory functions from its forestry management activities. The Forestry Authority is responsible for regulation and the provision of advice and grant aid to the private sector. Forest Enterprise manages the forest estates. Both branches of the Forestry Commission undertake their duties as consolidated in the Forestry Act 1967.

Three key issues are addressed in the Forest Enterpriser multiple purpose management philosophy. These are recreation, wood production and landscape & wildlife conservation. The responsibility for conservation results from the 1985 amendment to the 1981 Wildlife and Countryside Act.[77]

About forty percent of Britain's forests are managed, estimated at 900,000 hectares,[78] and as such Forest Enterprise is a major provider of tourist and recreational facilities. The general policy is to provide "freedom to roam" access although land tenure conditions sometimes negate this wish. Toilets, car parks and other basic amenities are provided by Forest Enterprise. Woodland Parks is a recent designation for areas where public recreation is the primary objective of management. In addition to informal recreation, certain organised events are catered for on allocated sites, these include car rallying and other specialist sports.[79] The promotion of paintball war games on Forest Enterprise land was banned in 1990.[80]

Forest Enterprise is seeking to expand the implementation of the above policies in the future. There is however some doubt as to the future status of the Forestry Commission. In March 1992 a new Forestry Review Group, an interdepartmental government committee sat for the first time to consider the merits of privatisation. "As might be expected, opinions as to the potential benefits and disbenefits are sharply divided."[81] In Sussex, local concern sees privatisation as a threat to public access and pressure groups are apparent.[82] The Ramblers Association have researched the ownership and policies adopted for woodland sold off through privatisation. If similar circumstances prevail in Sussex it is estimated that as much as 86 percent of Forest Enterprise lands will lose the freedom to roam.[83] Public concern about privatisation is resulting in the government downgrading its former proactive approach and earlier intentions have now been shelved in favour of a possible agency arrangement, details of which are awaited.


Forest     hectares   access

South Downs District:-   (estimated visitors 1.5-2m p.a.)

Rewell & Houghton Forests           518 freedom to roam
Selhurst & Eartham Forests          469  freedom to roam
Charleton Forest                              996 rights of way only
Marden including Kingly Vale        440 freedom to roam
Queen Elizabeth Forest *             1040  freedom to roam
                                     sub total     3463

Wealden District:-

Friston Forest ~                               858  freedom to roam
                                   grand total   4321 hectares

 * includes part in Hampshire.

 ~ Leased from the Eastbourne Water Company, the majority of the land is wooded but does include some agricultural land and a National Nature Reserve.[84] Darby notes, when writing in 1975, that criticism of the conifers was unjustified because they were temporary, nursing the three million Beech trees. "Before 1990 the forest will be almost pure beech.... and completely open to the public".[85] Observers today note that the forest still includes some pine and beech is being cleared.

Table 3:5                Source: Forest Enterprise 1993.

Forest Enterprise has formalised links with English Heritage and English Nature but has no formal links with the SDCB. Forest Enterprise also works in close conjunction with the National Trust and County Councils on such issues as mountain bike routes etc.

All Forest Enterprise funding is direct from the Treasury. The following estimated expenditure is made by Forest Enterprise on recreation, conservation and heritage on the Sussex Downland sites:-

South Downs District[86]  UK pounds 150,000 p.a.(50% of total)
Wealden District [87]        UK pounds 26,000 p.a.

The sites managed by Forest Enterprise on the Sussex Downland study area are given in Table 3:5.

West Sussex has 8,500 hectares of ancient woodland.[88]

18. Royal Society for Protection of Birds.

The RSPB exists for the protection of birds and of the environment in which they live and breed. It is therefore a major landscape conservation body registered as a charity. The RSPB is Europe's largest wildlife conservation organisation with a membership in excess of half of one million. They own 114 nature reserves throughout the UK totalling over 72,000 hectares.[89]

The RSPB bought 171 hectares of abandoned farm land near Pulborough in 1989. This has now been converted to a major wildlife reserve known as Pulborough Brooks and is open to the public.[90] The RSPB have no sites on the Sussex Downs.[91]

19. Footpaths, Bridleways and Byways

England and Wales has 140,000 miles of rights of way and the government has stated an intention to render all of these open by AD 2000.[92] These are supplemented by permissive paths and access where landowners have made provision for public access under one of a variety of schemes.

The origins of footpaths are lost in antiquity and up until 1949 there was no communal register. A few land owners had registered rights of way under the 1932 Rights of Way Act and some Local Authorities had made progress with local surveys. No comprehensive record existed and as a result there were innumerable disputes. The Scott Report (1942) on land utilisation in rural areas made recommendations of rights of way but it was not until the special committee set up in conjunction with Hobhouse on National Parks reported that an orderly system started to evolve.[93]

The Rights of Way Act 1990 is now the principal legislation covering footpaths, bridleways and byways. This sets out the responsibilities of the landowner, particularly farmers who may wish to disturb routes, and the highway authority, who have a maintenance and enforcement role.[94] Earlier legislation includes the 1949 National Parks and Access to the Countryside Act which placed a duty on Local Authorities to survey rights of Way. Later the 1968 Countryside Act extended the powers of the Local Authorities and enabled rights of way to be indicated on O.S. 1/25,000 maps.[95]

The Countryside Commission has a well documented objective for rights of way. "To promote networks of well signposted and maintained routes throughout the countryside, giving ready access from towns, linking points of interest in the countryside, and coordinated with accommodation, car parks, publicity and guides". A hierarchy of paths is categorised by the Commission, each receiving different treatment and usage.

Parish Paths and Community Paths: these are local paths which provide informal access and are not promoted.

Local Walks and Rides: these are signposted and waymarked and provide local recreational access to the countryside.

Regional Routes: these are longer, named and promoted paths which offer more than one days travelling, perhaps with a theme and with potential for attracting users from some distance.

National Trails: these are the routes of great quality which can be travelled on horseback, bicycle or walked. They are an important tourism resource with the potential for extensive journeys. The South Downs Way is a National Trail, it was the first and is unique, being a bridleway. Additional routes are being actively pursued.[96]

West Sussex has 2500 miles of public rights of way which exceed the mileage of roads in the County. 960 miles of West Sussex rights of way lie within the SDCB area and these are sub divided as follows: 70 percent - footpaths, 25 percent - bridleways, 5 percent - byways and roads used as public paths.[97] From this it can be estimated that approximately 75 percent of the 960 miles lie within the core study area in West Sussex. As such they are a major, low price recreational facility.[98] Being the highway authority, the County Council keeps the definitive map and publishes a charter for rights of way setting out their responsibilities, which in the case of the AONB are delegated to the SDCB.[99]

East Sussex has approximately 214 miles of public right of way within the core study region. Unlike West Sussex however, bridleways make up the majority 85 percent, with footpaths accounting for only 12 percent and other byways 3 percent.[100] The absence of definitive maps for parts of E. Sussex indicate that the figures given are estimations.

Public Rights of Way on Sussex Downs.
(totals include byways and roads used as public paths)

                              miles  footpaths  bridleways
 West Sussex       720       504            180
 East Sussex        214         27            182

 TOTALS                 934         531       362

Table 3:6

At the top of the hierarchy is the 99 mile South Downs Way which extends along the Downs from Eastbourne to Winchester. This was designated in 1972 and was the first National Trail. The path is open to walkers, cyclists and horse riders. It has also been traversed by intrepid wheelchair users. Branching off the way are a series of local walks linking up with a plethora of sites of interest. Numerous guides are published which detail accommodation facilities, principally camping barns and hostels along the route.[101]  Maintenance of all rights of way on the Downland is the responsibility of the County Council as the highway authority, now delegated to the SDCB.[102] The SDCB have, in their first year of operation, sanctioned expenditure to improve the South Downs Way.[103]

One controversial use of footpaths and bridleways is by mountain bikers. The law is very clear on cycling in that there is a right of way on bridleways. Bikers must however give way to walkers and horse riders, which does not always happen. Straying on to unauthorised paths and land also causes conflict.[104] Other problematic unauthorised use includes motor vehicles, especially four wheel drives and motor bikes.[105]

Local agencies publish a variety of promotional guides. For example The Sussex Bike Centre at Berwick markets a series of cycle trails in the Cuckmere area. The publicity is assisted by the ESCC Tourism Office.[106] WSCC also publish cycling and walkers guides from time to time some of which support a programme of guided walks and rides. In 1991 there were 377 guided walks and rides in the programme and the scheme was considered of such significant recreational value that participants were researched in order to provide data on developing the project further.[107]

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