Remembering the spirit of Kinder Scout

April 24, 2012 10:25 am

This week marks the 80th anniversary of the mass trespass of Kinder Scout in the Peak District which sparked the campaign for public access to Britain’s mountains and moorlands. The ramblers on 24 April 1932 were from the Labour and working class movements in Sheffield and Manchester, united in their wish to see our countryside opened up for all to enjoy.

The Labour movement and the Ramblers enjoy a shared history of campaigning for better access to the countryside: Attlee’s Government created the first National Parks; in 2000, we created the ‘right to roam’ as part of our landmark Countryside and Rights of Way Act; and we got cross-party support for our 2009 Marine and Coastal Access Act which placed a duty on the government to create a walking route around the coast of England. The first 32 km stretch of the new coastal path in Weymouth will be open in time for the Olympics. It will be a major tourist attraction and will showcase the best of British countryside for visitors to Dorset.

Natural England has identified the next five stretches of coastal path: in Cumbria, Kent, Somerset, Norfolk and Durham. Yet, it looks like the trail stops here. Public consultations are expected soon on these areas, but no date has been set. There is a resounding silence from Government on what happens next. Natural England had its budget cut by 21.5%in the Comprehensive Spending Review leaving it with little budget to create National trails beyond the Weymouth path.

George Osborne’s “doom and gloom, costs and sacrifice” view of the environment is running strongly across Whitehall. In the 2011 Autumn Statement, the Chancellor announced that the government would ‘tackle blockages for developments’ in the countryside, and that “we will make sure that gold plating of EU rules on things like Habitats aren’t placing ridiculous costs on British businesses.”

The Government’s lack of ambition to create an accessible path around England’s coast speaks volumes about its approach to nature, and its understanding of the economic, social, environmental and health benefits of opening up the countryside for people to enjoy. The Welsh Labour Government will open its All Wales Coast Path in May. The New York Times has listed the Welsh path as one of the 45 places to visit in 2012 and it will bring visitors, jobs and a boost to the rural economy in Wales. In times of austerity, tourism and leisure can bring economic benefits to rural areas facing unemployment, poor transport links and broadband connections, as well providing low-cost enjoyment for the public. 80 years on from Kinder Scout, the ramblers’ struggle continues.

Mary Creagh is the Shadow Environment Secretary.

  • JoeDM

     How about asking those well known Labour toffs, the Benn family about access to the coastal path around their Stansgate Abbey estate in Essex?

    I seem to remember this being brought up before on LL.

    See: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/earth/earthnews/3324755/Benn-under-fire-over-private-patch-of-Essex.html

  • Finn

    Excellent article Mary

    We need to move forward with more access to the Countryside

    Support for small and hill farmers  especially exactly 100 years after Agricultural Board recommended break up of the large  estates

    Country Standard

  • Daniel Speight

    There are so many inspiring pieces of Labour’s history when we look back to the first half of the Twentieth Century. How many would you dare write about Mary?

  • carolekins

     Looking forward to seeing the Durham bit of the coastal path (which bypasses much of our former mining industry)
    Another thing (generally overlooked): the incredible meanness of the Coalition Government in abolishing the Agricultural Wages Board, removing some modest safeguards for agricultural workers.  Tories the party of the countryside?  The party of oppressive employers, more like.

Latest

  • Comment The Living Wage has to be more than a photo op

    The Living Wage has to be more than a photo op

    The referendum on Scottish independence casts its shadow over every aspect of Scottish public life these days. This is understandable, the debate on whether Scotland should remain in Union with partners in England, Northern Ireland and Wales is a huge one, but the way it pervades every matter at Holyrood is doing a disservice to the people of Scotland. Yesterday I led a debate on behalf on Scottish Labour in support of the living wage, and specifically on extending it […]

    Read more →
  • Comment Who made my clothes?

    Who made my clothes?

    By Stella Creasy MP and Alison McGovern MP It’s been a long four years in opposition, and each year we’ve seen the country decline further for the lack of a Labour Government. But whether speaking up about legal loan sharks, the misuse of zero hours contracts or promoting the economic case for the living wage, we both believe that there are campaigns worth fighting, even if, from opposition, progress is many times harder, and very much slower. That’s why we […]

    Read more →
  • Featured 5 things Labour’s new rapid-rebuttal team need to get right

    5 things Labour’s new rapid-rebuttal team need to get right

    Yesterday’s story of a new Labour media management team, seemingly in the mould of Alastair Campbell’s famously effective rapid-response unit, and headed by Michael Dugher, should be welcome news to us all. A well-run operation can make a huge difference, and in an election as close as 2015 looks set to be, that difference could be Miliband or Cameron in Number 10. But for it to be truly helpful, it needs to get some things right. 1. Be rapid This may sound […]

    Read more →
  • Comment Should politicians do God?

    Should politicians do God?

    Easter is traditionally a time when Christians reflect on their faith, and there is no reason why politicians shouldn’t do so too. But this year David Cameron forsook his usual Easter message for a much stronger and more personal foray into the religious arena. He urged Britain to be more confident of its status as a Christian country; he spoke of the strength of his own faith; he said that we should be “frankly more evangelical about the faith that […]

    Read more →
  • News Iraq Inquiry report possibly delayed until after election

    Iraq Inquiry report possibly delayed until after election

    We reported recently that the Chilcot Report is now not due to be published until 2015, causing worries among Labour strategists that it could harm the Party’s chances at the general election. However, according to the Mail today, its release date could now be held back until after polling day next year. The article states: “Whitehall sources suggest that with an election due in May 2015, it will be deemed too politically difficult to publish it until after voters have […]

    Read more →