The government has confirmed it has “no plans” to increase access to the countryside in England despite widespread calls from campaigners.
Environmental secretary Rebecca Pow stated the government’s position in a parliamentary question this week, telling Labour MP Rupa Huq “we have no plans to change the Rights of Way Act”.
The government’s comments come just weeks after a report exploring the potential expansion of “right to roam” was shelved, sparking anger from campaigners seeking greater access to the English countryside.
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Currently, just 8 per cent of land in England is publicly-accessible. This stands in contrast to Scotland, where right to roam rules allow the public to access the vast majority of land across the country.
The campaign to introduce a similar policy in England has gained traction in recent years, with the pandemic and the climate crisis highlighting the importance of green space for nature and wellbeing.
The right to roam campaign group has organised a series of mass trespasses across England to demand improved access to land. The first took place in Devon in early May, where a group of campaigners took a picnic onto land owned by the Duke of Somerset.