We know that nature lowers our risk of mortality, boosts our wellbeing, and enhances our places and communities. The importance to access to nature nearby has been acknowledged by many, young or old, urban or rural, from all walks of life.
The Government has also recognised the importance of nature to people – promising in its recent Environmental Improvement Plan to ensure that all people live within a 15 minute of a green or blue spaces. This is an important pledge, with the potential to transform the lives of millions of people and nine million households in England who do not currently have access to nature within 15 minutes’ of home.
However, the Government has no strategic plan to deliver on its promise of access to nature for all. Nor will its laudable commitments, including to complete the England Coast Path, upgrade the existing Coast to Coast route and deliver the £9 million Levelling Up Parks Fund, result in everyone having access to nature within 15 minutes.
An upcoming Backbench Business Committee debate on public access to nature, secured by Caroline Lucas MP, on 18 May offers an opportunity for politicians to highlight this significant gap in the Government’s promise and its plans. We need significant and ambitious action from Government to increase access to nature for everyone and fulfil its promise.
The Nature for Everyone campaign, with a coalition of over 90 nature, planning, health and social justice organisations, has come together to call for legislative changes to ensure equitable access to nature for all.
There is an opportunity in the form of the Levelling Up and Regeneration Bill to recognise the importance of access to nature in levelling up, and to embed access to nature into our how towns and cities are planned, in order to deliver the Government’s promise of 15-minute access to nature for all.
The Bill is currently progressing through Parliament and the Nature for Everyone campaign is calling for MPs to support amendments to the Bill to:
Public access to nature is essential to our health and wellbeing, but it is also a fundamental human right. The Levelling Up and Regeneration Bill offers an opportunity to realise access to nature for everyone and deliver the Government’s 15-minute promise.
Please join us in urging MPs to make the case for accepting these vital amendments to the Levelling Up and Regeneration Bill and calling for Nature for Everyone. You can sign the petition here.
The full Link briefing for the Backbench Business Committee debate on public access to nature can be found here.
Emma Clarke is Policy Officer at Wildlife and Countryside Link.
The opinions expressed in this blog are the authors' and not necessarily those of the wider Link membership.
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