Get on my land!
‘Get on my land!’ was a 2018 campaign to increase off-road access for cycling in England after Brexit.
Post-Brexit, the UK Government had to create a new system for farming subsidy payments, to replace the EU’s Common Agricultural Policy (CAP).
The Government had spoken about a system that would reward landowners who provided public goods or benefits, and one of the benefits they were looking at was public access to nature. Cycling UK’s ‘Get on my land!’ campaign was all about linking public subsidies with public access, to enable more people to enjoy and experience our fantastic countryside.
Why is this important?
At the moment, cyclists can only ride on around 20% of England’s rights of way network.
When they do have access to paths and trails, they often find that:
- There are gaps in the network, so they can’t connect one off-road route to another
- The parts of the network they can ride on are poorly maintained, and unsuitable for many users
- There are limited off-road routes from urban areas into the countryside, or from the countryside into urban centres
Imagine what cycling in the countryside could be like if:
- You could ride on some of the 80% of the network you can’t use now
- Farmers and landowners were rewarded for improving access for all recreational users of their land, including cyclists
- The Government passed legislation which made it crystal clear that public access to the countryside was a public benefit, which it supported through farm subsidy payments
We joined forces with other organisations including Ramblers, British Horse Society, Open Spaces Society and the BMC (British Mountaineering Council) to call for a new system that provided landowners with the means to improve access to the countryside, so that our natural environment could be collectively managed and preserved for everyone’s enjoyment.
We set out this request in our response to the Government’s Health and Harmony Consultation, and encouraged our members and supporters to respond as well.
Thanks to lobbying by Cycling UK and other outdoor organisations, public access made it into the Agriculture Act as one of the criteria for payments, which was a great win for all involved.
However, it wasn’t as strong as we hoped – it created powers for funding to go to public access improvements, but no real duty to make it happen.
We changed our focus to the Environment Act, lobbying for targets to be set for improvements to public access. We also pushed for access to be given greater priority in the scheme which would determine the payments. Unfortunately, neither of these had much success.
Cycling UK is continuing to campaign for increased off-road access for cycling in England, as we set out in our Beyond the Green Belt Vision.