Walking body adamant that farming reform must not be a threat to countryside access.
The Ramblers has released a statment expressing its concern that recommendations put to DEFRA by the Macdonald review of farming regulation could 'drastically alter our ability to access the countryside'.
The review is tasked with cutting red tape in the farming world, but some proposals, say the walking charity, could hit acess. In particular, proposals include plans to introduce costs for those who want to claim a footpath on behalf of the public, to make it easier to divert paths and to stop the introduction of new footpaths after 2026.
Here's the full release, which puts The Ramblers' arguments more cogently than we can...
Cutting farming ‘red tape’ must not be a cut to access
Today’s (21 February) Government response to the Farming Regulation Taskforce has created further uncertainty about the future of public access to the countryside - Britain’s Walking Charity warns.
Ministers announced today they were adopting 159 out of more than 200 recommendations put to DEFRA by the Macdonald review of farming regulation. The Ramblers are particularly concerned that they are also considering further proposals; includingrecommendations which could drastically alter our ability to access the countryside.
Proposals which remain on the table include plans to introduce costs to those who wish to claim a footpath on behalf of the public, to make it easier to divert footpaths, and to ensure that no further footpaths could be claimed after 2026.These recommendations, if approved, could completely change the way people interact with the countryside and the natural environment.
The Ramblers is increasingly concerned that the governments push to reduce ‘red tape’ in farming, planning and environmental policy is systematically undermining access rights which have been hard fought for over many years.
Nicky Philpott, Ramblers Director of Campaigns and Policy said:
“With the Government’s Red Tape Challenge already looking to reduce environmental regulation, the proposed changes in planning policy and now today’s farming announcement, it is definitely an uncertain time for walkers.
“There are so many different proposals which could drastically undermine our access rights; potentially closing-off the countryside.
“With the economic, health and well-being benefits of access and walking clearly understood – it is vital that we protect these rights for future generations. Reducing ‘red tape’ must not simply mean reducing access and environmental protection.
“The public outcry over the forests demonstrates the strong public feeling people have towards the countryside and their local green spaces and any moves to unnecessarily chip away at these rights will be bitterly resisted.”
More Ramblers information at www.ramblers.org.uk