A step in the right direction for public access in Agriculture Bill

We have welcomed the inclusion today (12th September) of support for public access as part of the new Agriculture Bill – something we have been calling for in our Your Path Awaits Campaign. 

Grass field

Our chief executive, Vanessa Griffiths, said: “As Britain’s walking charity, protecting the places we walk is at the heart of everything we do, so the Government’s commitment to supporting easier access to the countryside in the Agriculture Bill is a very welcome step in the right direction.

“However, to really make a difference to the millions of people who enjoy the outdoors every year, getting the detail right will be critical. We are pleased to see the intention to give financial support to farmers for improved public access. But with so much of our wonderful path network on agricultural land, it is vital to also have measures in place that ensure farmers and landowners fulfill current duties to keep existing paths clear.”

Our recent online survey about the importance of the path network found that 85% of adults in England and Wales believe that being able to experience the countryside is important for children’s understanding of the environment and food production. 

The results also showed that more than eight out of ten adults said that visiting the countryside is good for their physical fitness (83%) and mental wellbeing (82%). 
Vanessa added: “This Bill is a once in a generation opportunity to protect our paths for the future and ensure that the countryside remains accessible, making sure we can all continue to connect with nature and enjoy the health and wellbeing benefits it brings.”

Find out more about and get involved with our Your Path Awaits campaign.


Dominic Pinto

Excellent news:

That Part 1 Powers have these permissive (but not set out in any priority order) powers set out quite clearly. The devil though will be in the detailed regulations of course, which will be lobbied on tenaciously by other interests as well.

1 Secretary of State’s powers to give financial assistance

(1)The Secretary of State may give financial assistance for or in connection with any of the following purposes—

(a)managing land or water in a way that protects or improves the environment;

(b)supporting public access to and enjoyment of the countryside, farmland or
woodland and better understanding of the environment;

(c)managing land or water in a way that maintains, restores or enhances cultural
heritage or natural heritage;

(d)mitigating or adapting to climate change;

(e)preventing, reducing or protecting from environmental hazards;

(f)protecting or improving the health or welfare of livestock;

(g)protecting or improving the health of plants.

(2)The Secretary of State may also give financial assistance for or in connection with the purpose of starting, or improving the productivity of, an agricultural, horticultural or forestry activity.

(3)Financial assistance under subsection (1) or (2) may only be given in relation to

There's still a long way to go, but a very welcome start.

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