Remembering the spirit of Kinder Scout

24th April, 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.

To report anything from the comment section, please e-mail [email protected]

  • 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 Featured For once the SWP was right: Vote Labour – with no illusions

    For once the SWP was right: Vote Labour – with no illusions

    The Socialist Workers Party used to call on its members to “Vote Labour – with no illusions”. I never thought I would have to steal one of their slogans. But the last week has awful. It would have been bad enough if it had just stopped at Naz Shah MP being exposed for having shared Facebook posts calling for Israeli Jews to be “transported” to the USA. Naz apologised and showed real contrition and demonstrated that since she became an […]

    Read more →
  • Featured News Unite claims victory over tipping scandal – but demands new laws

    Unite claims victory over tipping scandal – but demands new laws

    Unite has demanded tough new laws to ensure that restaurant staff receive the entirety of customers’ tips. Britain’s biggest trade union spoke out after Sajid Javid, the Business Secretary, published a consultation triggered by the scandal of big dining firms taking a proportion of gratuities left for workers. In what Unite has called a “massive, rightful victory” for working people, Javid concluded that restaurant companies must not widely take a percentage of staff taps.  The Business Secretary has proposed tougher […]

    Read more →
  • Featured News Scotland Video Watch: “We can do things differently” – Kezia Dugdale’s latest election video

    Watch: “We can do things differently” – Kezia Dugdale’s latest election video

    Kezia Dugdale has released a new video talking about how the Scottish Labour is changing to meet new challenges of Scottish politics and her time as leader of the party. Watch it here:  

    Read more →
  • Featured News McCluskey: MPs are setting “false traps” to undermine Corbyn

    McCluskey: MPs are setting “false traps” to undermine Corbyn

    Len McCluskey has accused some Labour MPs of setting “stupid traps” to undermine Jeremy Corbyn as leader of the party before crucial local elections this week. The Unite General Secretary named backbenchers Michael Dugher, Liz Kendall, Wes Streeting and Ian Austin as MPs as “nothing short of treacherous” for trying to attack Corbyn in any way they can in an interview with The Guardian. McCluskey said Dugher, and Kendall, who unsuccessfully stood for leader over the summer, had set false expectations […]

    Read more →
  • Featured News “We stand against racism in any form” – Corbyn’s speech at the May Day rally

    “We stand against racism in any form” – Corbyn’s speech at the May Day rally

    This an extract from Jeremy Corbyn’s speech at the annual May Day rally in London yesterday. “We have to stand up against racism in any form whatsoever in our society. We have stood in this green in Trafalgar Square and in many other places against apartheid South Africa. Eventually apartheid South Africa was defeated. “We stood in solidarity with […] the USA fighting for civil rights in the 1960s and 1970s. We stand in solidarity now against the growth of the […]

    Read more →
Share with your friends










Submit