A PROVISIONAL map outlining land in the region which the Government plans to open up to walkers in its "rights to roam" law will be on display in March.

As part of the Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000, which became law in January last year, farmers, landowners and walkers have been urged to get involved in the consultation process.

Open days have been held to give residents in affected areas a chance to put their views to the Countryside Agency, which has been given the task of mapping eight areas of the country.

A draft map for the North-East is already available to view, and includes areas such as Teesdale, Wear Valley and Derwentside, which will open up thousands of acres of land to walkers.

So far, the response from the countryside community in the region has been fairly positive, but there are still concerns among farmers that visitors may cause some disruption.

Hill farmer Richard Betton, from Middleton-in-Teesdale, said: "Some parts of my land are included in the map and, of course, you tend to remember the one per cent of the visitors who cause problems, not the 99 per cent who do not.

"One of the biggest worries is whether people know how to handle their dogs."

The map can be viewed at Teesdale district, Derwentside district, Durham county, and Wear Valley district councils as well as at public libraries, including Barnard Castle, Hexham and Consett.

Appeals can be made online by logging on to www.ca-mapping.co.uk