CLA lobbying win: Labour backs away from widespread 'right to roam' policy

CLA to continue working closely with party to define and support responsible access to the countryside
Walkers have a right to access public footpaths and other rights of way, and landowners have a right to run their businesses safely.

Labour is backing away from a widespread 'right to roam' policy, in a major lobbying win for the CLA.

The party will not pursue a Scottish-style 'right to roam' in the English countryside if elected, instead promoting a responsible access approach.

The CLA has been working tirelessly on members' behalf raising concerns about the 'right to roam' campaign while also highlighting the vast network of footpaths, bridleways and byways which already make up our public rights of way network.

Country Land and Business Association President Mark Tufnell said:

“A 'right to roam’ would be disastrous for farming, wildlife and the environment, as creating a ‘free for all’ would destroy crops and delicate habitats.

“The CLA warmly welcomes Labour’s reported position and will continue working closely with the party to define and support responsible access to the countryside.

“The ‘right to roam’ campaign promotes ignoring public rights of way and open access land in favour of trespassing on private land. There are already over 140,000 miles of public rights of way in England and Wales alone, more than any other country of comparable size, and enough to walk around the Earth almost six times.

“Many farmers also give unofficial, permissive access of their own volition, and it is vital that landowners and walkers work together in the spirit of mutual respect and co-operation.”

Articulating what responsible access means practically, and from a policy perspective, will be important and we will work with the shadow frontbench to craft a definition that respects the needs of nature and rural businesses.

CLA promoting Countryside Code

It is vital that we teach people to respect, protect and enjoy our landscapes, and the CLA has been promoting the Countryside Code, which was refreshed in 2021.

We have lobbied for it to be added to school curriculums, and partnered with LEAF Education to offer a variety of resources to teachers and youth group leaders.

Find out more about the Countryside Code campaign