On Thursday our MP asked a question about an event that will take place tomorrow. Sadly the answer was inadequate. Perhaps even more disappointing there has so far only been 27 MPs that have signed the Early Day Motion on the same subject which Caroline Lucas, our MP set up on the 14th March. The event that is taking place tomorrow is the 90th Anniversary of the trespass of the Kinder Scout area of the Peak District. On the 24th April 1932 the group of people in the photograph above took part in an effective civil disobedience that led to the Peak District becoming our first National Park. Above that photograph along with Caroline Lucas is a photograph of Lord Agnew who has carried out a review under the theme of “the Access to the Outdoors Commission” and tragically the Government is not releasing the report. There is a report of the event that took place 90 years ago here as part of the History Extra and an organisation called The Right to Roam that has a document which is a way of corresponding with the Government to call on them to release the review. I first spotted the issue in one of Caroline’s recent tweets where she states
“Pathetic response from Minister to my question yesterday With just 8% of English land publicly accessible, the nation’s crying out for a greater #RightToRoam Why is Govt shying away from a debate? Ask your MP to sign my EDM”
She then provided two links, one was this one for a Guardian Article which has the headline of “Minister defends shelving right to roam report: ‘the countryside is a place of business’ Activists irate at Treasury decision and fear expansion of publicly accessible land will not go ahead” and also the Early Day Motion which is available here and which is titled as:
Right to roam
It involves 27 signatures including Labour, SNP, Plaid Cymru, DUP and Independents but not a single Conservative MP. The text for the motion is as follows:
That this House notes that 24 April marks the 90th anniversary of the mass trespass onto Kinder Scout; acknowledges that this trespass united the campaign for access to the countryside and eventually contributed to the establishment of the UK’s first national parks through the National Parks and Access to the Countryside Act 1949; recognises the growing body of evidence demonstrating the importance of access to nature for health and wellbeing which has been highlighted by the covid-19 pandemic when use of parks and public green spaces increased; is concerned that people from ethnic minorities or with low incomes are less likely to live near green space and 2.7 million people in the UK have no publicly accessible green space within easy walking distance from their home; notes that the Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000 only provides access to 8% per cent of English land, and that the public can only access 3 per cent of rivers in England and Wales; acknowledges that legislation in Scotland and European countries including Norway provides for a much greater right to roam; believes that extending the right to roam to cover more landscapes and recreational activities would improve the public’s connection to nature whilst also delivering on the Government’s commitment in the 25 Year Environment Plan to open up the mental and physical health benefits of the natural world; and calls on the Government to bring forward legislation to extend the Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000 to include rivers, woods and Green Belt land.
The question and very sad answer that took place on Thursday was asked by Caroline and responded to by Mark Spencer who is the Minister who is the Leader of the House of Commons. The link is here and the words are below.
Caroline: This weekend marks the anniversary of the mass trespass of Kinder Scout, which paved the way for the establishment of our precious national parks. Yet 90 years on, the Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000 still only allows the public to access around 8% of the land in England. The evidence of the importance of nature for our health and wellbeing continues to grow, so it is profoundly disappointing to learn today that the Government will not be releasing the results of the Agnew review—the Access to the Outdoors Commission. Can we have an urgent debate on the right to roam and the importance of extending that by amending the CRoW Act as soon as possible?
Mark: I join the hon. Lady in recognising the huge contribution that access to the open countryside can have on people’s physical and mental health. We are blessed in this country with hundreds of thousands of miles of public footpath to allow people to access the countryside, but I hope that she also recognises that, as well as a place of leisure, the countryside is also a place of food production and business. At this time of year, there are lambs in the fields, so it is quite important that people keep dogs on leads when accessing the countryside. Food production is a very important part of the UK economy and, as I have said, we must recognise that the countryside is a place not just of leisure, but of business and food production.
So what we now need to do is call on the other 623 MPs to consider signing the Right to Roam Early Day Motion