Conceptions of land and land ownership as a barrier to countryside access in Northern Ireland

Activity: Talk or presentationOral presentation


"While property ownership has been described as a “fole and defpotic dominion… over the external things of the world” (Blackstone) it is truer to describe land ownership as consisting of a “variety of rights and interests” (Wylie). Rights of access to privately owned rural land for recreation exemplify the qualified nature of property rights in land and challenge the Blackstonian view.
Statutory provision for countryside recreation varies between UK regions. Scotland provides for open access on foot to most undeveloped and uncultivated land. England and Wales have 189,000km of public rights of way and access to open country (1m hectares in England) (Natural England). Northern Ireland, with no ‘right to roam’, but discretionary local government powers to provide for access, has only 311km of public rights of way and 2.9 hectares of open access land (Hansard).
Drawing on an empirical study completed by the author and previous literature, the paper will examine how ideologies of land ownership and the countryside combine with the centrality of rural land to Ireland’s turbulent history to form a barrier to a more liberal countryside access regime in NI.
Period27 Mar 2013
Event titleSocio-Legal Studies Association Conference 2013
Event typeConference
LocationYork, United KingdomShow on map
Degree of RecognitionInternational


  • outdoor recreation
  • countryside access
  • northern ireland
  • right to roam
  • rights of way
  • environmental law
  • land law