A NATIONAL key scheme for gates on public rights of way has been proposed.

The Country Land and Business Association's idea is to overcome the problem of stock escaping from a field when a gate is left open by mistake.

Landowners cannot lock a gate on a right of way, and stiles cannot be used by the less able-bodied.

The CLA believes one solution may be to erect gates fitted with the same lock used on disabled toilets, which are part of the national key scheme operated by the charity Radar.

The scheme gives access to about 4,000 locked public toilets across the country and many people with disabilities already have a key.

"The locks are already stocked by local authorities and the users already have the keys," said Sue Harrison, CLA deputy regional director North-West.

The scheme would reassure farmers and give access to the less able.

The CLA is now consulting the less able bodied and other countryside agencies.