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Closed petition Enshrine in law rights to roam and wild camp in national parks

Pass legislation to protect people's right to enjoy nature, and prevent it being restricted by landowners, who we believe should not really be allowed to own land within national parks. National parks should be for all, and not turned into a commodity.

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To allow future generations the opportunity to experience and appreciate the natural beauty of this country's national parks. Too many people have little to no experience outside of highly polluted walkways and paths, with little to no opportunity to see the beauty of the night sky. Many children have not seen the night sky in absence of light pollution before. The recent overturning of the right to roam on Dartmoor in favour of the privileged is unfair, and will only reduce these opportunities.

This petition is closed All petitions run for 6 months

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Government responded

This response was given on 24 February 2023

The Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000 provides the public a right of access to large parts of the English countryside including National Parks. There are no plans to change this.

Read the response in full

The Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000 provides the public a right of access to areas of mountain, moor, heath, down, registered common land and coastal margin in England. There are no plans to change this.

Our National Parks and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONBs) play a critical role in improving our health and wellbeing and we support the recent Landscapes Review’s vision of more beautiful, more biodiverse and more accessible National Parks and AONBs.

The Government recognises the importance of providing access to the outdoors for peoples' health and wellbeing and is working to ensure this is both safe and appropriate. We committed in our Environmental Improvement Plan (EIP) to work across Government to help ensure that everyone lives within a 15 minute walk of a green or blue space.

However, we also recognise that to restore nature, as per the environmental targets recently set out in the EIP, we need to enjoy its beauty responsibly.

The Government is delivering a number of policies to increase responsible access to nature including:

• Working to complete the England Coast Path which, at around 2,700 miles, will be the longest waymarked and maintained coastal walking route in the world. Over 2,000 miles have now been approved as England Coast Path, with nearly 800 miles already open. It will also create 250,000 hectares of new open access land within the coastal margin.

• Delivering the £9 million Levelling Up Parks Fund to improve green space in over 100 disadvantaged neighbourhoods in the UK.

• Designating the Coast to Coast from St Bees to Robin Hood's Bay as a National Trail

• Delivering the £14.5 million ‘Access for All’ programme, which consists of a package of targeted measures in our protected landscapes, National Trails, forests and the wider countryside to make access to green and blue spaces more inclusive.

The England Trees Action Plan sets out our commitment to the provision of safe and appropriate public access in as many woodlands as possible. The recently published EIP reiterates our commitment to publish our ambition for improving the quantity, quality, and permanency of woodland access, including how we will:

• Improve information and data on current provision of woodland access for all uses and rights, as well as their proximity to people, and the communities they might support, to allow better targeting of resources and provide better information to the public.

• Consider options to review existing forest road infrastructure on the public forest estate and consider extending access rights and opportunities for cyclists and horse-riders across this estate.

Through programmes with the Community Forests and Forestry England we are enabling creation of large scale publicly accessible woodlands near towns and cities.

We continue to support land managers to provide woodland access through our Countryside Stewardship and England Woodland Creation Offer (EWCO) schemes. We recently amended EWCO to offer a higher incentive for the provision of access to new woodlands and have made more applicants eligible to apply for funding for access.

Under the new environmental land management offer, for woodlands, we are providing societal benefits by bringing people closer to nature, allowing long term permissive access for recreation and contributing to the rural economy.

We are aware that we must balance the needs of all those who live and work in the countryside with those who visit to ensure that public access brings all the benefits we know it can without affecting nature recovery and food production or security.

Regarding Dartmoor, this is an ongoing matter between the National Park Authority and the landowners concerned. An agreement has been reached in principle that will enable people to continue wild camping in parts of Dartmoor National Park.

Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

MPs debate public access to nature

On Thursday 8 May, MPs debated public access to nature. MPs discussed rights to roam and wild camp.

The debate was led by Caroline Lucas MP. Trudy Harrison MP, the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs responded for the Government.

The debate was scheduled by the Backbench Business Committee.

What are backbench business debates?

Backbench business debates give backbenchers (MPs who aren’t ministers or shadow ministers) an opportunity to secure a debate on a topic of their choice, either in the Chamber or Westminster Hall.

MPs can make a request for a debate to the Backbench Business Committee, who hears and decides which debates to schedule.

Backbench debates can either be general debates (which do not end in a vote) or be on a substantive motion (which calls for an action and can end in a vote). This debate was a general debate.

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