Ramblers Scotland has welcomed many aspects of the Scottish Government’s new legislative plan for the coming year.
The Programme for Scotland 2018/19 features several encouraging announcements, in particular new initiatives aimed at improving public health and physical activity. These include commitments to:
- Support the ‘Natural Health Service’
We have argued for many years that investment in outdoor recreation is one of the best ways to improve health and wellbeing in the long-term.
- Create a system of Greenways for walking and cycling
Our research has identified widespread public support for investment in Scotland’s path network. We’re working to get more paths on maps and on the ground through our Out There campaign.
- Appoint an Active Nation Commissioner
We hope that this new role will help encourage walking and cycling, not only as a mode of transport that links communities, but also for leisure and outdoor recreation.
- Maintain the doubling of active travel spend from 2017
We believe this investment is vital if the Scottish Government is to achieve its targeted 15% reduction in physical inactivity.
- Publish a national strategy to tackle social isolation and loneliness
Our 54 groups across Scotland continue to make a valuable impact upon the wellbeing of the nation, with volunteers running more than 3,500 sociable, healthy and fun walks each year.
The document also addresses several environmental issues that impact upon walkers and Scotland’s outdoors. These include:
- Pushing ahead with a deposit return scheme
We have supported this ambitious scheme to reduce plastic waste as part of the ‘Have You Got the Bottle?’ campaign and look forward to seeing it implemented following consultation.
- Maintain EU environmental protection principles
Together with a wide range of partners, we will campaign on this issue as part of a Scottish Environmental LINK campaign this autumn.
- Delivering the land reform agenda
We support the Scottish Government’s ambition to ensure that land is managed in the most effective way for everyone – including those enjoying outdoor recreation.
Jess Dolan, director of Ramblers Scotland, said: “It is pleasing that several of Ramblers Scotland’s policy priorities have been addressed within this plan, and to see the Scottish Government renew its focus on creating healthy and active communities.
“We believe that there is exciting potential for walking and outdoor recreation to play an even greater role in supporting the Scottish Government’s aims.
“We look forward to working with the Government to tackle some of the most important issues impacting our nation, such as inactivity, isolation and obesity – in particular through our role on the National Walking Strategy delivery forum.”