In 2019 the government conducted a review of UK Trespass legislation, with worrying signs of intent to change trespass from a civil matter to a criminal offence, while also strengthening police powers to remove individuals from land.
This review and associated suggestion to change classification is outwardly intended to target traditional traveller communities but could also impinge on other fundamental rights which many of us don’t even think about, including
- Our right to roam
- Our right to protest
- Community powers to designate new rights of way
Changes to the law could make it more difficult than ever for people to congregate peacefully, explore the natural environment or just be free when out walking in the world.
This review is a further move toward removal of universal and communal rights to privilege those with the power to purchase property, and a shift toward privatising even more of the ground under our feet. Much of our public land has already been transferred to the private domain, so it is imperative this issue receives parliamentary scrutiny and proper debate on the ramifications for the many who enjoy and deserve access to land, rather than serving a few individuals, or private entities.
Natalie Bennett, Green Party member of the House of Lords, commented
Access to Nature is a human right and one we should not give up lightly. I’ve often focused on that right for children , but it must apply for all ages. Our understanding of how vital this is for health and wellbeing just keeps growing. If Scotland can protect its moors and respect the right to roam alongside private property rights, why would we seek to act differently?
Alison Teal, Green Party councillor for Nether Edge and Sharrow said
For Sheffielders, the legacy of the 1932 Kinder Scout Mass Trespass is part of our local history and also testament to the power of peaceful civil disobedience, arguably leading to the creation of National Parks and our much loved long distance walking trails such as the Pennine Way. We cannot let this Tory government undo the progress that was made then, and continue on their destructive path toward limited freedom of movement at home as well as farther afield.
A petition to debate the issue in parliament is now past the 100,000 signatures needed for proper scrutiny, but adding your voice will show how important the issue is to many. We urge you to add your voice and take action.
Sign the petition (deadline Friday 5 September): https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/300139