Right to Roam Coalition Consultation, Thursday 11th October

The OIA are working with the Land For Justice Network to create a UK Right to Roam coalition. With our mandate for participation, Land Access is an important issue on the OIA agenda, and we look forward to concrete action as a result of this new coalition.

We would like to invite members of the industry to join representatives from Natural England, British Canoeing, Sports Recreation Alliance and the BMC among others at our first consultation on the 11th of October, in London.

Robin Grey, Land for Justice Network writes;

‘We are approaching a critical mass of people involved in outdoor activities such climbing, walking and canoeing, who are noticing the large discrepancies in access rights to land across the UK.

The much celebrated Land Reform (Scotland) Act 2003 granted a legal right of access in principle to all land and water. Despite fears of havoc landowners expressed during passage of the legislation, the Rural Affairs and Environment Committee of the Scottish Parliament reported in 2011 that the access provisions appeared “to be working well and there is little desire amongst stakeholders for any significant change”.

In the rest of the UK we are largely governed by two moments when greater access rights have been won:

The National Parks and Access to the Countryside Act in 1949 led to the creation of our first national parks and more recently in 2000, the Countryside and Rights of Way (CROW) Act created a ‘Right to Roam’ across about 10% of the land in England and Wales. However many counties, especially those in low lying areas such as the south of England, still have very little publicly accessible land, with rights unevenly distributed across our country.

The CROW act also included a provision that set a deadline of 1 January 2026 for registering footpaths and bridleways created before 1949 which are not currently recorded. This deadline is approaching and many routes people assume are public rights of way are yet to appear in official records and risk being lost forever.

Given the growing popularity of outdoor activities and mounting weight of evidence demonstrating the benefits of being outdoors to both mental and physical health, coupled with our current obesity epidemic and mental health crises, shouldn’t we be doing all we can to ensure nothing is getting in the way of everyone’s enjoyment of nature, and defining a sustainable strategy for our outdoor future.

What would it look like to have a presumed ‘Right to Roam’ across all land in the UK? Is there a good reason we can’t emulate the progressive access laws across much of northern Europe, including the recent successful changes in Scotland?

If you or your business interested in being part of a group that wants to explore and work towards changes to land access in the UK, we’d like to hear from you.

Please contact Claire Carter on claire.carter@theoia.uk