The government's landmark Agriculture Act - once in a generation legislation that will reshape the countryside in England - is a great opportunity to strengthen our connection to the natural world.
As the act made its way through Parliament, we were excited by the prospect that the Government intended to reward farmers for improving access to the countryside, as part of a new financial support scheme that would deliver ‘public payments for public goods’.
The timing couldn’t be better – following Covid lockdowns it became clear that we needed to build back better, and enable everyone, everywhere to connect with nature.
But, in recent announcements, the plans to improve access to the countryside through payments to farmers are being quietly dropped.
Despite big promises, access to nature is not included.
Over the past couple of years Ministers have promised again and again that access to nature will be included as part of future farm payment schemes. That taxpayers’ money would deliver a sustainable farming industry, protection for our environment and improved access to the natural world.
On 2 December 2021, the government published further detail of the new 'Environmental Land Management' scheme – the name given to the new funding arrangements. This announcement did not include public access, and does not deliver on promises to connect people to the natural world.
Help us to seize this opportunity
However, we've not missed our chance to seize this opportunity. The scheme will be developed further over coming months, and we have the chance to ensure that the public will benefit from billions of pounds of taxpayers money being handed to farmers every year. We have the chance to ensure that this reshaping of our countryside includes people, that it enables us to connect with the natural world.
Write to your MP using our template letter, and ask them to push ministers to keep their promises to connect everyone everywhere with nature, and to include access in the Environmental Land Management scheme.