Campaigners are planning a ‘mass trespass’ in York to protest against laws that bar the public from most of the land and rivers in England.
The protest is organised by climate group Extinction Rebellion York, but not limited to its members. It will take place on private land in the York area this Saturday (24 April).
Organisers say they “have no intention of disrupting the livelihoods or daily activities of landowners. We trespass not in order to harm landowners – as the law defines it – but to start a conversation about our natural right to land.”
Calling themselves The Land We Share, the group said that they will “follow the rule of six and maintain 1 metre social distancing at all times, and risk will be low in any case as we will be outside and in fresh air”.
In a statement they said: “We believe that access to nature is a birth right, not a crime; yet, the public is currently barred from 92% of the land and 97% of the rivers in England.
“Corporations and aristocrats own nearly half of the country, which they acquired over hundreds of years of enclosure of common land.
“As a result, the vast majority of people in this country are treated as strangers if they step out of the narrow slices of land the law grants them. We believe this is wrong.”
Call for universal right to roam
They are calling for the UK Government to extend the Countryside and Rights of Way act (CRoW) to grant the public Right to Roam on private land, as is already the law in Scotland.
“Access to nature should not depend on wealth, inheritance or class: nature should be open to all,” the statement says.
“As it stands, trespass law entrenches existing inequalities in this country, as the poorest and most marginalised are also the least likely to be able to travel to the areas that already have Right to Roam (eg parts of the Lake District).
“Furthermore, a growing body of scientific evidence highlights that being in nature can heal us, providing a restorative environment that improves both our physical and mental health.”