Protestors to Trespass to Oppose Law That Prevents Access to UK Countryside

500 protestors and counting are ready to trespass on a piece of land in Dartmoor due to concerns that only 8% of the English countryside is accessible to the public.

Right to Roam’s Ambitious Pursuit

Right to Roam is scheduling a protest that could see hundreds of people trespassing on a single area of private land in a bid to tackle the British countryside’s “absurd” laws.

According to the Countryside and Rights of Way (CRoW) Act from 2000, only 8% of Britain’s countryside can be accessed publicly.

Right to Roam’s Lewis Winks claims that this is a sign of the British countryside being “broken,” and laws must be changed so that everyone can explore the beauty that the country has to offer.

Post-War Britain Shows Ageing Laws

The effects of post-World War II agricultural changes have created “access islands” in England’s countryside, resulting in a call to action for a change in the country’s laws.

Winks expressed his strong disapproval of the concept of “access islands” arguing that it is a clear indication that the countryside laws in England are ineffective.s

In 2000, the CRoW Act allowed roaming over “access land,” becoming a battleground for Right to Roam advocates.

CRoW Act’s Unintended Confinement

According to the campaign group, the lands that are accessible to the public are often bordered by privately owned landscapes and cultivated fields, which create isolated patches of free-to-explore areas.

“It’s ridiculous,” asserted Winks, “that the public must resort to trespassing to access fragments of land where legal right to roam exists—all due to our piecemeal approach to access in this country.”

In what is being hailed as a display of solidarity, hundreds of supporters are set to converge at Vixen Tor in Dartmoor, Devon, for the latest mass trespass organized by a movement. 

Legal Rights and Trespassing Conundrums

Despite facing obstacles, a group of campaigners is determined to make their way through private land to access a location that they have nicknamed the “Forbidden Island.” 

“Forbidden Island” is not technically privately owned land, so no laws will be broken, but the rules surrounding trespassing on the land are blurred.

Guy Shrubsole, co-founder of the group, clarified that the mass trespass isn’t an act of hostility towards individual landowners, claiming, “This isn’t about individual landowners or farmers.”

Shrubsole asserted that the protest is campaigning against the construction of English law and its limited access.

“It’s about how law is constructed in England and how we only have a right to access 8% of the country and how we think the public should be trusted to have access to more of that,” said Shrubsole.

A Lesson for England

According to Winks, England should follow Scotland’s method that ensures rights of access to these patches of land that would be deemed private in England’s countryside.

Winks noted Scotland’s default right of access, making most land and water in the Scottish countryside available to the public since 2003.

Winks stressed, “With political parties pledging to increase access to nature in England it’s vital they learn from the mistakes of the past, and look instead to follow successful examples like Scotland.”

Labour’s Scottish-Style Promise

The Labour Party had already promised to follow the Scottish laws surrounding “access lands” if they were to win the general election this year.

Just months later, Labour revoked this promise, giving in to the concerns of the private landowners who argued against the move.

These false promises from political figures have led to multiple protests in Dartmoor over the years, with 500 campaigners scheduled to walk across the controversial land this month.

The post ‘Absurd’ – Protestors to Trespass to Oppose Law That Makes Only 8% of British Countryside Accessible to Public first appeared on Pulse365 Limited.

Featured Image Credit: Shutterstock / Ground Picture.

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