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Property Rights, Land Use and the Rural Environment: A Case for Reform

Lookup NU author(s): Emeritus Professor Christopher Rodgers



English Law confers extensive land use rights as an integral attribute of property entitlements and land ownership. Property rights have, however, been subject to incremental reform by a number of different legal and policy instruments since 1945. Many have been introduced since the UK's accession to the European Community in 1972 and are derived from European Union environmental law, and from the law of the Common Agricultural Policy. Others derive from planning law and policy. There has, as a consequence, been an extensive modification to the allocation of land-based utility recognised in property rights, although the common law theory of property entitlements has remained unaffected. This paper considers the impact of these developments on property rights theory, and anticipates the further modifications to property concepts that will be required by a land use policy increasingly focussed on the promotion of environmental stewardship in the countryside. It makes the case for the introduction of a general duty of environmental stewardship as an attribute of property ownership in the law of England and Wales. It considers the contribution that this would make to the delivery of a stable and effective environmental policy for rural land use, and towards a recognition of the wider community interest in, and reliance upon, the sustainable management of land.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Rodgers C

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Land Use Policy

Year: 2009

Volume: 26

Issue: s1

Pages: S134-S141

Date deposited: 07/01/2011

ISSN (print): 0264-8377

ISSN (electronic): 1873-5754

Publisher: Pergamon


DOI: 10.1016/j.landusepol.2009.09.018

Notes: This article was commissioned for the Department of Innovation and Science’s Foresight Land Use Futures Research programme. It argues for the implementation of a legally enforceable duty of environmental stewardship as an attribute of property rights in English law. This is controversial. Received very strong peer review approval, and is published in a special issue of a leading interdisciplinary journal with the other Foresight Land Use Futures papers.


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