Help us call on the Treasury for a greater Right to Roam
We’ve discovered that the Treasury has commissioned a Minister, Lord Agnew, to lead a new review into access to nature. This ‘Agnew Review’ is looking for “radical, joined up thinking” to achieve a “quantum shift in how our society supports people to access and engage with the outdoors”.
The review was previously secret, taking place behind closed doors – but we want to bring it into the open. And now we need lots of you to call on the Treasury for a greater Right to Roam – by emailing Lord Agnew using our template letter below.
We have a Right to Roam over just 8% of England. So this is a golden opportunity to push for more public access to the countryside.
The Treasury’s new-found interest in nature is clearly motivated by the spiralling costs of sedentary lifestyles to the health service, and the way lockdown demonstrated how desperately we need regular access to nature for our physical and mental health.
Please send an email to Lord Agnew asking him to extend our Right to Roam. You can copy and paste our template letter below, and send it to Lord Agnew’s official Ministerial email address, firstname.lastname@example.org
It’s even better if you can personalise your letter – perhaps by talking about rivers, woods or other green spaces in your area where you’d love to have the Right to Roam, but can’t access currently.
TEMPLATE LETTER FOR YOU TO EMAIL TO LORD AGNEW
Email to: email@example.com
Subject line: Agnew Review – please extend our Right to Roam
Dear Lord Agnew,
I was excited to learn that you have been tasked by HM Treasury with leading a review of public access to the outdoors, that is looking for “radical, joined up thinking” to achieve a “quantum shift in how our society supports people to access and engage with the outdoors”.
I’m writing to submit some important evidence to your Review: the easiest, cheapest and most effective way of achieving a ‘quantum shift’ in public access to the outdoors is by extending the Right to Roam.
We currently have a Right to Roam over just 8% of England. This is thanks to the Countryside and Rights of Way (CRoW) Act 2000, which gave a legal right of public access to mountains, moorland, heaths, some downland and commons, alongside the more recently created England coast path.
Whilst the CRoW Act has been a fantastic success in giving people access to some of our most beautiful landscapes, open access land remains small in scale and remote from where most people live.
To give people the regular access to nature that we so badly need for our physical and mental health, it makes sense to extend the CRoW Act to cover rivers, woods and Green Belt land. Rivers run through every community, and yet 97% of rivers are off-limits to the public. Tens of thousands of acres of woodland have benefitted from public subsidy, yet remain publicly inaccessible. Millions of people live in cities surrounded by Green Belts, yet they are seldom viewed as a destination for a day trip. Meanwhile, our National Parks have become honeypot sites: extending the Right to Roam to places closer to where people live could help alleviate the pressure on them.
A simple change to the law to extend our Right to Roam to these landscapes would at a stroke radically increase public access to nature – at zero cost. Yet the savings to the public purse in terms of improved public health would be vast. Physical inactivity costs the NHS around £1bn per year, and wider society around £7.4bn per year. A 2009 study by Natural England found that “if the population of England was afforded equitable good access to green space… the life-cost averted saving to the health service could be in the order of £2.1 billion per annum.”
In asking for this greater Right to Roam, its proponents of course recognise the need for greater responsibilities to go alongside it. The public needs to take better care of nature; and the Government has a duty to better educate people, by doing more to promote the Countryside Code (between 2010 and 2020, just £2k per year was spent promoting it). But the science also shows that the more people experience nature, the more they care for it.
You can find out more information on the Right to Roam campaign’s website: https://www.righttoroam.org.uk/
I hope that this evidence and my views will be taken into account by your Review, and I look forward to hearing about its conclusions. Thankyou.
[INSERT YOUR NAME]