The Labour Party has published a new report rethinking land matters in the United Kingdom. As part of their self-proclaimed “radical” proposals, the report supports adopting the Scottish policy of Right to Roam for the entirety of the United Kingdom.
In response to health crises and to enhance “our sense of belonging” the report proposes “that rest of the UK adopts the Scottish principle of a Right to Roam across all uncultivated land and water, excluding gardens and other exceptions.”
Such a policy would redefine land ownership in England, Wales and Northern Ireland and open up vast swathes of land for public use.
The proposals take further inspiration from the Scottish system in calling for bodies modelled on the Scottish Land Commission to be established in the rest of the United Kingdom. These bodies would address issues relating to land ownership via research and in the proposal of new policies.
Ramblers CEO, Vanessa Griffiths approved of the report noting the importance of “contact with nature” for health. Griffiths also praised the reports aim of opening the countryside up “so that it is of the benefit of the many, not the few.”
In another policy area that the Ramblers Association has campaigned on in recent years, the report encourages the repeal of legislation “limiting the protection of footpaths and bridleways.”
Suggesting that the current protections for historic footpaths and rights of way are wanting, the report focuses on the managed neglect of landowners allowing public rights of way to fall into disuse and the end of registering rights of way by 2026.
Concluding comments on public rights of way, the report proposes that we “learn from the largely forgotten history of land reform in the UK” in order to inspire a “21st-century land reform movement.”