MP briefing - Agriculture Bill

The Agriculture Bill will shape the countryside for generations to come. The decisions made in the coming weeks will have far reaching consequences for our ability to access the outdoors.

As the Bill approaches Report Stage in the House of Commons, we are asking MPs to support two amendments to the Bill that will:

  • Enhance our access to the countryside – Amendment 11, tabled by Caroline Lucas MP - We think that farmers and landowners should be rewarded when they enhance the path network. That might be by making existing paths more accessible to people with restricted mobility, or by adding new routes that better connect places and communities. Read more examples of enhancing access here.
  • Protect our path network – Amendment 28, tabled by Angela Smith MP - We think that farmers and landowners should, as a condition of receiving public money, fulfil their existing legal duties to keep clear public rights of way on their land. That’s fairer for farmers, safer for walkers and a better use of public money.

Why the bill matters for walking

Agriculture accounts for 70 per cent of land use in the UK. This land contains a significant proportion of the nation’s paths, and farmers already have legal duties to keep paths on their land clear. The Agriculture Bill will introduce new rules to replace the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) ahead of the UK’s withdrawal from the EU. This will set the agenda for how the countryside is managed long into the future.

Our ambition is for the Agriculture Bill to enable people to access and enjoy the countryside via our fantastic path network for generations to come. Our path network helps people learn more about the important work undertaken by farmers, benefits tourism and local businesses, and has a positive impact on our health and wellbeing.

What we need from the bill

The Agriculture Bill, as published, is a welcome step in the right direction in achieving our ambition. The Bill includes provisions which enable financial assistance to be given to farmers and landowners to support public access. However, to really make a difference the Bill needs to include measures that:

  • Enhance our access to the countryside – Farmers should be rewarded for exceeding their legal duties. The Bill should include provisions that enable public payments to go to farmers where they provide new routes for the public or take steps to make the existing network more accessible. Amendment 11, tabled by Caroline Lucas MP, aims to achieve this.
  • Protect our path network – Farmers who receive public payments should be expected to fulfil their existing legal duties to keep paths on their land clear. The Bill should establish a ‘regulatory baseline’ detailing the minimum standards expected of farmers who receive public money. Amendment 28, tabled by Angela Smith MP, aims to achieve this.

Please support us

The Agriculture Bill will soon return to the House of Commons for Report Stage. At this critical stage in the Bill’s progress through Parliament we need your support for Amendments 11 and 28 so that public access to the countryside is protected and enhanced for generations to come.

For further information or to discuss in greater detail, please contact us at policy@ramblers.org.uk or on 020 3961 3300.

You can also show your support on social media by sharing what the path network means to your constituents @RamblersGB #YourPathAwaits.

Thank you for your support.

Path protectors

Meet our path protectors

From walkers to photographers to micro adventurers, find out why people want to keep paths open, and let us know why you want to protect paths.