Open Spaces Society,(1) Britain’s oldest national conservation body, has welcomed the pledge from the Environment Secretary, Michael Gove, to deliver a green Brexit (speech, 21 July), but has called for this to include support for greater public access to the countryside.
Michael Gove speech did not mention recreation or public access in his speech but, in response to a question from Judy Ling Wong of the Black Environment Network, he said that as education secretary he had worked to make it easier for schoolchildren to visit and enjoy where our food comes from and that we can embed a love of nature in the way in which we plan and design new buildings and landscape.
Says Kate Ashbrook, general secretary of the Open Spaces Society: ‘While these are encouraging words, we urge the Environment Secretary to go further and ensure that, post-Brexit, payments to land managers include the requirement to provide greater public access to land—not just for schoolchildren but for everyone.
‘The Environment Secretary agrees that the £3 billion which is currently paid to farmers and land managers should be directed to providing public goods. We say that must include improvements to public paths and creation of new ones, and dedication of land for public access and enjoyment.
‘We are sorry that Mr Gove did not volunteer this in his speech but look forward to discussion with him how this can be achieved, for the benefit of all.’
Notes :- The Open Spaces Society was founded in 1865 and is Britain’s oldest national
Conservation body. It campaigns to protect common land, village greens, open spaces and
public paths, and people’s right to enjoy them.
The Open Spaces Society has an
Action Plan for Wales 2016
Wales: Our Common Heritage
The Open Spaces Society’s Action Plan for the
Welsh Government, 2016-2021
Our Action Plan for the Welsh Government chimes with the seven principles in the Well-being of Future Generations (Wales) Act 2015: open spaces and paths are crucial to the economy, health and well-being of Wales, its history, culture and present-day living. If these places are in good heart, people will visit them for recreation and enjoyment, and the local economy will benefit. The success of the Wales Coast Path is testament to this.