08 February 1999
Over 100 MPs back right-to-roam bill

SUPPORTERS of right-to-roam legislation staged a demonstration in Scotland at the weekend when two English ramblers were cut free from a barbed-wire cage by an MP at the border.

Gordon Prentice, Labour MP for Pendle, is trying to get a Private Members Bill through Parliament that will give English walkers a similar freedom to roam as those proposed for Scottish ramblers.

Michael Meacher, the Environment Minister, inaugurated a consultation on the issue last summer and is shortly to decide whether to introduce legislation in England and Wales.

The Ramblers Association wants to persuade the government to stick to its pre-election pledge of laws opening up uncultivated land in England and Wales.

More than 100 Labour MPs intend to back a right-to-roam bill which is scheduled for a second reading in the Commons on 26 March.

But the government is not expected to give its backing to the bill. Mr Meacher wants landowners and farmers to reach voluntary agreements with walkers. He is thought to be planning to publish the governments own proposals before the Prentice bill is debated.

Some Labour MPs fear that the governments scheme will make it too easy for landowners to keep ramblers off their land.

  • The Times 08/02/99 page 6