'It is a choice': CLA responds to claims walkers are forced to trespass in countryside

Millions of acres of land is publicly accessible, says CLA President Victoria Vyvyan
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The CLA encourages everyone to visit and enjoy the countryside, responsibly.

Millions of acres of land is publicly accessible and nobody is forced to trespass, the CLA has argued amid claims from right to roam campaigners.

Campaign groups say walkers cannot reach 2,500 patches of public access land because they are surrounded by private land with no public right of way. Often the only way to reach these so-called "access islands" is to trespass, they argue.

But these so called islands only amount to less than 0.2% of the total land available for public access. The CLA has seen no evidence to suggest these islands are not accessible via permissive access routes.

The CLA has argued that breaking the law is a choice, and the focus should instead be on improving infrastructure to help the public responsibly enjoy the massive network of access routes already available.

Country Land and Business Association President Victoria Vyvyan said:

“Whilst there is already nearly 144,000 miles of public rights of way, enough to travel six times around the globe, and 3.5 million acres of public access land, the CLA supports increasing access, where needed, on a permissive basis.

“To achieve that we need government to make it easier to add the necessary infrastructure, such as car parking, gates, stiles and loos. The vast majority of land managers keep open spaces accessible, but they cannot do it alone and without funding. Gates, stiles, paths – they all cost money and time in their creation and management.

“We encourage everyone to visit and enjoy the countryside – and we ask them to do it responsibly, minimising their impact on farmland and being mindful of the many environmental projects that must be protected.

“Nobody is forced to trespass, it is a choice and millions of acres of land is publicly accessible without the need to do so.”