What are Green Rights?
This item, from the present chair of the Green Right Proprietors, aims to explain the background to green rights:
First a little history:
In 1791, when an act of Parliament was established to set up a framework for managing public and common land, thirty nine villagers who lived around Old Buckenham Green were given the right to graze a specified number of livestock on the Green. The rights were allocated to individuals – including the incumbent of All Saints Church and the proprietors of the two public houses on the Green. Some residents were also allocated ‘?planting rights’ which allowed them to plant trees and harvest the wood.
The grazing rights were passed down through families but in the past they had a value and could also be bought and sold or transferred to new holders. Later, the rights had to be registered and placed on record at Norfolk County Council. This register of holdings and subsequent transfers is kept at County Hall in Norwich.
The act of grazing livestock and watering them from the ponds, coppicing and pollarding trees and taking hay used to ensure the Green was maintained in a certain way - as working land - and without doubt conferred a worthwhile right on the Green Right holders who could benefit personally from an enhanced access to the land.
It has to be said that this is no longer the case. Not for many years have green right owners, either individually or as a group, obtained any financial benefit from their entitlements. However those who remain active in the village do maintain a strong sense of commitment to the ongoing maintenance of the Green for the benefit of everybody to use and enjoy.
Over the years the expectations of many in the village as to what this should entail appears to have expanded greatly to include pretty much anything and everything that happens on or around the Green. Many if not most of these were never part of the Right Holders remit. Cars are a good example of this as they did not exist in 1791 but currently cause considerable problems when driven over or parked on parts of the Green.
Currently the income available to the Green Right Owners is restricted to wayleaves paid by the electricity company and some minor levies on those obtaining a commercial benefit or right of way across the Green. Once the Public Liability insurance has been paid there is not a meaningful surplus available to do much other than attempt to maintain the Green as a hay meadow in line with its current DEFRA registration.
Commitment to the ongoing maintenance of the Green for the benefit of everybody to use and enjoy is and always has been the main role of the Green Right Proprietors.
In the past they had a vested interest in this role as the Green provided them with a financial benefit over and above that enjoyed by others. Today that benefit has been replaced with a sense of responsibility to history and tradition and a love of our village Green.
The Green Right Proprietors welcome the help and support of all in the village who have the Green’s interest at heart and are keen to add weight to any initiatives aimed at improving this unique village asset.