Thank you for contacting me about access to nature and green spaces. I agree we must support the rights of all to access nature.
We are so lucky here in Sheffield to be so close to open green space, being only a stones throw away from the Peak District.
During the pandemic myself and many others gained a greater appreciation of nature, green spaces and local parks. I have always believed that everyone should have access to nature and to take advantage of our beautiful countryside.
Likewise I am committed to improving public access to land for recreational and educational purposes. There is clearly a huge public enthusiasm for greater access to the countryside and such access provides clear mental and health physical benefits.
However, I understand that there are constraints on this access, with public roads blocked, car parks full and footpaths overrun, and access limited to established, well-trodden paths. I do not believe that love of the countryside will subside with the end of the pandemic, so we need a new contract with landowners to make sure everyone can benefit from the peace and tranquillity of nature.
The Government states it is working on a cross-governmental approach to increase access to green space. It also says that it has recently awarded £80 million to nature-based projects across England as part of its Green Recovery Challenge Fund, and that it will continue to pay for heritage, access and engagement through existing environmental land management schemes.
I welcomed the provisions in the Agriculture Act which will reward landowners for opening up new routes of access across their land but I am disappointed that greater public access was not part of one of the Government’s first sustainable farming initiative pilots.
Unfortunately because of parliamentary convention I am restricted from signing any EDMs due to my position as Shadow Secretary of Transport.
However I can assure you I will continue to champion rights of way and the right to roam so that everyone can access nature, whoever they are or wherever they live.