Response analysis

Posted by @ 9:31 pm on Monday 23rd June, 2008.

I just thought that I would take this opportunity to explore further the e-petition reply, adding in a few observations where appropriate:

This Government appreciates the potential benefits of wild camping in England and its attractiveness to campers who already have the opportunity to camp in the wild in Scotland.

Whoever composed this reply should realise that wildcamping in England does not have "potential" benefits. It has "actual" benefits. The benefits to the practitioner are obvious - exercise for the body and mind, freedom from the rat-race, the opportunity to prove oneself self-reliant and capable of making the right decision come what may. But there are also benefits to the local economy in the form of cash for purchases made, car-parking fees, local transport fares, even free advertising for the area in the form of online trip-reports and personal recommendations of places to visit (or to avoid).

The Land Reform Act in Scotland allows for wild camping, but the land issues and the legislation in England are somewhat different. The introduction of wild camping in England would be a controversial issue, which would require both significant consultation and legislative change.

We've not been campaigning for the "introduction" of wildcamping, we've been campaigning for it to be supported in law. Wildcamping has been going on in England for hundreds of years. It's a bit late to talk about introducing it as if it's something new. Anybody who has access to the internet could have figured that out within seconds.

On open access land wild camping is prohibited under Schedule 2 of the Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000, which lists all restricted activities. Therefore, new Regulations would be required to exclude wild camping as a restricted activity. Any change to the current rules on wild camping in National Parks and Ministry of Defence land would require new primary legislation.

That last sentence isn't entirely true, as I said in my previous post. Wildcamping in all National Parks could be allowed by the National Parks Authorities, or permitted by bye-law, over-riding the prohibitions set in Schedule 2 of the CRoW Act, as currently happens in the Lake District National Park and on Dartmoor. No "new primary legislation" would be required for this. The law already supports such matters, but the CRoW Act could be clarified to make this more obvious, especially to the NPAs.

The Government has no plans to allocate the necessary resources to consider proposals for such legislation at present, and is concentrating on following up the successful introduction of 750,000 hectares of open access land with new legislation on access to the coast in the Marine Bill, which is currently going through Parliament.

Sounds good, but think again - wildcamping on those 750,000 hectares still isn't allowed, unless they're in Scotland, the Lakes or Dartmoor. Indeed, wildcamping on the coastal access land will probably be formally prohibited by the CRoW Act when the Marine Bill is passed, instead of just being an act of trespass as it is now. In short, that last paragraph says "look, we're about to make matters even worse for you". That said, I'm bemused by the concept of "introducing" land. Who or what is the land being introduced to? Or is the land new, perhaps claimed from the waves?

So, are we being told that change is impossible?


We're being told that change is inconvenient.

If we were terrorists / illegal immigrants / striking miners instead of campers, you can bet your bottom £Sterling that the powers that be would move heaven and hell to get new laws introduced to deal with the situation.

And as for that other country involved, the one that didn't even get a mention, don't forget that "it profits a man nothing to give his soul for the whole world... but for Wales?"

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11 Responses to “Response analysis”

  1. "This Government" isn't reliable, as it doesn't state who in the PM's Office or democratically elected Government wrote the response. It could have been some intern. It is obviously not someone who has spent and evening or two looking at the legislation (i.e. doing the job that they get paid by our taxes to do).

    The Marine Bill is for ramblers, not hikers. Apparently it will increase the health of the nation (not to mention the wealth of the seaside towns).

  2. BG! says:

    If I was still teaching and had to mark this work, I would have to append the following comment to my score:
    "You have not understood the question. Go back and try again".

  3. Martin Rye says:

    I like the point of…… We’ve not been campaigning for the “introduction” of wildcamping, we’ve been campaigning for it to be supported in law……That is a good point BG, let’s hope and let’s keep knocking on the government’s door. Those lucky, lucky Scots.

  4. Robin Evans says:

    Thanks for the clarity of thought, I'm still in indignation mode. Let's keep going and move on to the next phase. Governments change. This one is like a rabbit in the headlights at the moment.

  5. Kev says:

    Clear, concise and lucid. Nicely done, Stef.

  6. BG! says:

    So you didn't think I was being a bit "stompy", then?

  7. Kev says:

    Took me a while to get the "stomping" reference, sorry 🙂
    I'd say no. Yours is a measured response, definitely. Frustrated, I think, sums up mine.

  8. BG! says:


    I've just been comparing the text of the response to the text of the letter I received from Jonathan Shaw of DEFRA, which I posted at - the similarities are remarkable, including the omission of references to Wales, so I guess that JS drafted the response.

  9. BG! says:

    Yup. He should have consulted his colleagues, at least Joan Ruddock knows that Wales exists:

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