The Conservative party has abandoned its promise to ensure that all residents of the United Kingdom have access to a green space within a 15-minute distance.
According to a report from the Guardian, the UK government does not have any intentions to achieve its goal of ensuring that everyone resides within a 15-minute walking distance of a green area.
According to a Freedom of Information request filed by the Right to Roam campaign, government officials have abandoned the proposal to enforce a legal requirement for reaching a nature access goal.
In the beginning of this year, the former environment secretary, Thérèse Coffey, praised herself for her proposal to make green or blue spaces within a 15-minute walking distance from every home. She stated, “I am especially proud of our commitment in this plan to provide access to parks, canals, rivers, countryside, or coast within a short distance from all homes.”
However, when asked for information under the freedom of information act, the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs stated that no evaluations have been presented to government officials regarding potential approaches to fulfilling the pledge.
Currently, government statistics show that 38% of the population resides more than a 15-minute walking distance from a natural or water area. The information given to government officials also reveals that “in the 200 most deprived lower super output areas in urban locations with the least amount of green space, 97% do not have access to green space within a 15-minute walk from their residence.”
According to the documents, the government declined the proposal of legally obligating the target, allowing it to potentially not follow through on its commitment.
According to records, George Eustice, the former secretary of environment, expressed doubts about implementing a top-down goal. Officials at Defra also acknowledged potential difficulties in establishing a legally binding target.
According to Guy Shrubsole, a member of the Right to Roam campaign, it has been a year since the government made their promise to increase access, but they still have not figured out how to accomplish this. Additionally, the government has refused to set a legally-binding goal for increasing access, showing that they are more concerned with creating positive publicity rather than promoting the health and well-being of the nation.
The upcoming administration must be courageous and grant the general population a standard right to responsible access, with reasonable exceptions. Without this, achieving the 15-minute goal will be unattainable.
A representative from Defra stated that they are expanding opportunities for experiencing nature. Just last week, they announced a comprehensive plan which includes a search for a new national park and funding to encourage more children to explore the outdoors and rural areas. This will ensure that our green spaces are accessible to all members of our communities.
Efforts are currently being made to create a method for tracking and assessing our important goal of ensuring that every household is within a 15-minute walking distance of a park or body of water.