The Federation of Cumbria Commoners has revived plans to create a commons council following the EU referendum result.
In 2013, after a number of years working with Defra on a suitable proposal, the federation’s members voted to establish a council.
The next step was to submit an Establishment Order to parliament, but most commoners’ associations were too busy working on their applications to environmental stewardship schemes to give time to a new commons council, so the process was put on hold.
But now, in the light of Brexit, the federation has decided to pick up where it left off.
Joe Relph, chairman of the federation, said: “We believe a commons council for Cumbria is now more necessary than ever if commoning is to remain viable in this post-Brexit world.
“Commoners need to have a voice in the design of the new agricultural policy and systems of payment.
“A commons council will give us a better chance of getting heard and help us maintain the commons a promote good standards of livestock husbandry.”
At the moment, commoners in Cumbria work together to manage agricultural activities through their commoners’ associations – of which there are around 75.
These associations have constitutions and appointed officers, but they are voluntary bodies with no real powers of enforcement.
It is hoped creating a commons council, which would have legal recognition under the 2006 Commons Act, would help to solve some of the issues as it could make legally binding rules to deal with disputes.
The body would be run by council members, elected by commoners, and there would be seats for landowners and others who have a legal interest in the common.
The federation is in the process of writing to the chairmen of local commoners’ associations to see if there is still enough interest in creating a council.
If there is, public meetings will be held for commoners in January to explain the process and what has to be done next.