Campaigners are planning a mass trespass this Sunday on the Duke of Somerset’s private estate in Totnes to call for greater public access to land in England.
The duke owns 2,800 acres of land in Devon, the majority of which is shut off to the public for pheasant shooting. An additional 3,400 acres of land is owned by the duke in Wiltshire.
According to data from the Department of Environment and Rural Affairs, the duke received around £30,000 in public money in 2020 for “forest, environmental and climate services and forest conservation” on his Totnes estate.
The trespass is being led by the Right to Roam (RTR) campaign, which is demanding an expansion of the Countryside & Rights of Way (Crow) Act in England to allow greater access to land for the public.
Author and environmental campaigner Guy Shrubsole, who is taking part in the protest, said it was time that “big landowners made a little less room for pheasants, and a bit more room for us peasants”, citing access to nature as “vital to people’s physical and mental health”.
Currently, the Crow Act only permits public access to around 8 per cent of land in England, including some moors, common land and coastlines.