More than 100 authors, musicians, actors and artists have written to Boris Johnson urging him to extend the public’s right to roam the English countryside.
The letter, signed by prominent figures from Stephen Fry to Jarvis Cocker, Sir Mark Rylance to Ali Smith, calls on the Prime Minister to give people better access to nature to improve the physical and mental health of the public.
“In the books we write, the songs we sing, the art we create, we celebrate the essential connection we feel with nature,” the letter states. “Our love for nature resonates with our millions of fans and followers, but in England it is actively discouraged by the law. It’s not just unfair; it is also untenable.
The authors point out that in England, the public has “the freedom to move” over only 8% of the country, while “only 3% of the rivers in England and Wales are legally accessible to kayakers, paddle boarders. and wild swimmers ”.
They ask Johnson to go further by expanding the right to move to cover forests, rivers and green belt land.
“Lockdown has demonstrated how vital it is for us to have access to a green outdoor space, both for our physical and mental health,” the signatories write. “There is now a body of scientific evidence showing how essential nature is to our well-being.”
The intervention comes on the occasion of the 20th anniversary of the Countryside and Rights of Way (CRoW) Act, which created a partial right to travel in England and Wales. The letter was organized by the Right to Homelessness campaign, set up earlier this year by authors Nick Hayes and Guy Shrubsole.
Shrubsole said, “Extending the right to move would be a bold and far-reaching act on the part of this government, and its effects would resonate for generations to come. Today, more than ever, the time has come to give people the freedom to reconnect with nature, in the interests of public health.