RYA supports Outdoors For All manifesto

Coalition sets out vision for a ‘natural health service’ that’s free and available for all
13 Dec 23
RYA supports Outdoors For All manifesto
  • 36 leading national governing bodies and environmental organisations have signed up to support a manifesto seeking to extend responsible access to more green and blue spaces  
  • The Outdoors For All coalition is calling for new legislation to open up more of our countryside, including waterways, woodland, riversides and downland for public enjoyment
  • A new bill will create opportunities for people to enjoy more land and water for activities including cycling, walking, climbing, horse riding, caving, swimming, flying and paddling. 
  • The UK ranks lowest of 14 European nations on connectedness to nature. It also ranks 11th out of 15 European nations on levels of physical activity. Nations that rank higher than the UK, have far more freedom to enjoy their outdoor spaces.

The RYA is one of 36 leading national governing bodies and environmental organisations to have joined together to support an Outdoors For All manifesto, seeking to extend responsible access to more green and blue landscapes. 

Fellow signatories include representatives from paddlesport, swimming, horse riding, climbing, rambling, wheeling, flying and many more. The manifesto also has the support of the Canal & River Trust, National Trust, The Wildlife Trusts and Campaign For National Parks.

The government has set its sights on getting 3.5m more people active by 2030, through its Sporting Future Strategy. It has also committed to giving the public access to green and blue spaces within a 15-minute walk of home, through its Environmental Improvement Plan. 

The Outdoors For All manifesto argues that to meet these targets, rights to responsibly access the outdoors must be expanded.

Less than 4% of rivers in England have an uncontested public right of access. The path network is frequently inaccessible and 19.6m people do not live within a 15-minute walk of green and blue spaces. 

Access land which gives us our current and limited right to roam covers just 8% of England. This right extends only to those on foot and excludes others such as equestrians, paddlers and cyclists.

'Compelling case'

Physical inactivity is associated with 1 in 6 deaths in the UK and is estimated to cost the country £7.4bn annually (including £0.9bn to the NHS). Our population is 20% less active than in the 1960s and is forecast to be 30% less active by 2030. It is estimated that good access to green and blue spaces would save an astonishing £2.1bn in health spending every year.

“We wholeheartedly believe that the water belongs to everyone, and that everyone should have the opportunity to experience the joy, relaxation, inspiration and excitement it offers,” said RYA Director of External Affairs Mel Hide.

“That’s why the RYA is proud to be part of this coalition of leading outdoors organisations, which sets out a compelling case that improving access to our blue and green spaces must be a priority for government to address inequalities and realise the huge and well-documented economic, health and wellbeing benefits they provide.”

Read more about the Outdoors For All manifesto.