Buried within the new GOV.UK website is the Defra policy, ‘Protecting and improving people’s enjoyment of the countryside’. This contains actions on public paths, coastal access, common land, town and village greens, protecting and enhancing English landscapes and funding the Canal and Rivers Trust. It was updated on 11 April 2013.
Here we learn from government that ‘we use legislation to protect common land and town and village greens. This is important for farming and biodiversity, as well as for public access’. Quite so.
A bit further on we learn that: ‘There are new laws in place to restrict the circumstances under which people can apply to register town and village greens. This includes measures to make it easier for landowners to protect their land from being registered as a town or village green.’ Not only is this inconsistent with the earlier statement—for if greens are important, why restrict them?—but it is also untrue. The so-called ‘new laws’ have not yet been passed. The Growth and Infrastructure Bill, to which the government refers, has not yet returned to the House of Commons nor received royal assent.
With such an obvious mistake it is evident that GOV.UK’s accuracy cannot be trusted.
Postscript: I reported this to Defra and I am pleased that within a day the offending words were removed.