Protest picnics and poetry: the campaign to make rural England more accessible

The psychological and physical health advantages of nature have been well documented, with research studies recommending routine spells in the fantastic outdoors can decrease anxiety, enhance state of mind and even increase kidss IQ.

Cue the Right to Roam project, which is lobbying the UK federal government to extend the Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000. The aim is to allow millions more individuals access to nature, as well as the freedom to take pleasure in activities that are presently off-limits in rural England.

With simply 8 per cent of the countryside in England– and 3 per cent of its rivers– accessible to the public, exploring nature is simpler said than done for numerous individuals.

Just 8 per cent of rural England is available to the public. The Right to Roam project plans to deal with that

This absence of gain access to is a class concern, said Hayes: “For many individuals, nature is something you can just experience if you can manage the rail fare or gas to arrive and then the B&B or campsite costs to spend the night.”

” In other nations people have the right not just to roam, but to kayak, paddleboard, swim, select fruit or mushrooms– we only deserve to babble across 8 percent of the country. The laws of the land actively dissuade people from going out in the countryside.”

In addition to the movements growing base of supporters, Hayes will assist to manage a project of direct action in spring 2021 to keep the concern in the spotlight.

” Our right to wander is not defined in the same way as it is in other countries,” described Nick Hayes, author of The Book of Trespass, who introduced the campaign with fellow writer Guy Shrubsole, author of Who Owns England?

This might put campaigners on a clash with the federal government, which wishes to make trespass a criminal (instead of a civil) offense. Critics state Number 10s strategies discriminate versus Travellers and further tilt the law in favour of the 1 percent who own half of England.

A bit like Extinction Rebellions protests? “No, more like delightful picnics with Morris dancing and music and poetry on land that the general public arent permitted to go on,” said Hayes. “We also want botanists and ecologists to come and teach us about the land that we havent seen prior to.”

The Right to Roam campaign will use picnics as a type of demonstration. Image: Toa Heftiba

If individuals have a direct, visceral, understanding and concrete relationship with nature, they will appreciate it more

To Roam released a petition versus the plans, passing the threshold of 100,000 signatures 10 days before the deadline, implying that MPs now have to dispute the steps in parliament.

He suggested that better access to the countryside would foster greater regard for the environment. “If individuals have a direct, visceral, tangible and understanding relationship with nature, they will care about it more than if its just abstracted in newspaper articles,” he said.

Hayes is likewise contacting the government to better publicise and impose the Countryside Code to encourage people to look after nature, following reports of charm spots being ruined by litter during lockdown as more people headed to rural locations.

Main image: Fas Khan

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