08 March 1999
Voluntary approach inadequate — Meacher
By FWi staff
A VOLUNTARY approach to countryside access would have been inadequate, Environment Minister Michael Meacher told MPs this afternoon (Monday).
“Over the past fifty years, a voluntary approach has delivered relatively little,” said Mr Meacher, speaking in the House of Commons.
“Despite some commendable initiatives, there is little prospect of much new access being provided voluntarily in future,” he said.
“Even if much more access could be secured by voluntary means, the access would not be permanent and the costs would be high.”
Mr Meacher said that only a new statutory right to roam promised to deliver cost-effectively the extent and permanence of access that the government is seeking.
“Securing greater access to open countryside will bring new opportunities for improving peoples health – physical and mental,” he said.
“It will enable everybody to experience the wonders of wildlife and beautiful landscapes.”
Mr Meacher said the Government had studied over 2000 responses to its consultation document before concluding that a statutory right to roam was the way forward.
“We talked to a wide range of organisations; we visited key sites; and we commissioned research into the costs and benefits of different approaches,” he said.
“We are now convinced that legislation is the only way to make sure people will be free in perpetuity to explore open countryside.”