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Ramblers call on government to show true colours on environment

November 27, 2012

Ramblers call on government to show its true colours on environment

27/11/2012

The Ramblers is urging the government to renew its commitment to the environment and the many public benefits it brings as a ‘traffic-light’ assessment reveals it is has made slow, or no progress on all but two of its 20 major commitments to the natural environment. The Ramblers is one of an alliance of top environmental charities backing Nature Check 2012, a Wildlife and Countryside Link report launched today (27 November 2012) – the second assessment of the government’s progress on environment since the commitments were agreed in 2011.

Issues surrounding access to and enjoyment of the countryside have all come up as amber (delayed or under-delivered) in the report findings. In some cases, there have been improvements but these have not been significant enough to merit a green rating.

Although steady progress is being made on the implementation of the English Coastal Path, timetables cannot afford to slip and improvements must continue into the New Year. The public outcry caused by the threat to the Public Forest Estate showed government how deeply people care about our countryside and The Forestry Panel’s final report was warmly received. But we still await a promise from Government to once and for all abandon the sell-off of the Public Forest Estate, to take forward the Panel’s proposals to make public access to all woodland the norm.

Consultations are also underway on a number of other key issues which could have an enormous impact on the public’s ability to use and enjoy the natural environment. This includes pending decisions on the future of our National Trails; on rights of way consultation and on town and village green reform. The Ramblers is calling for the government to back up its rhetoric about the importance of accessing the natural environment, and all the health, social and economic benefits this brings with a renewed commitment to increase and improve the public’s ability to access the countryside.

Benedict Southworth, Chief Executive of the Ramblers said: “We cannot afford for the government to be lukewarm about access to and enjoyment of our countryside. Our paths and green spaces are gateways to the countryside, providing endless opportunities for people to get outdoors and get active through walking and other activities – and the multiple benefits that come along with it. We want to see a renewed commitment to the natural environment and the public benefits it brings, and see current slow progress sped up to achieve this.

“With decision time looming on forests, rights of way and the future of our National Trails, there’s an opportunity for government to prove that it truly recognises the enormous value of access to our countryside and is committed to protecting and enhancing it. The progress that is being made needs to continue and improve. It is time to protect the places people love most with renewed vigour.”

The Nature Check 2012 report will be presented to the Environment Secretary, the Rt Hon Owen Paterson MP, at a parliamentary reception on 27 November.

Download the full report or see the Link press release.

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