We all need a legal right to local nature 

Everyone, everywhere, should be able to grow up, and grow old, with nature.

The pandemic proved how important spending time in nature is to people’s health and wellbeing. But it also highlighted the inequalities in access to thriving natural spaces.

One in three people in England do not have nature near their home, with little or no greenspace at all in some of the most disadvantaged areas.* Ethnic minorities are twice as likely to live in a neighbourhood without nature-rich spaces.**

The Government has promised to create equal opportunities and quality of life for everyone across the country through its 'Levelling Up agenda'. To achieve this, Government will introduce new laws. These 'Levelling Up laws" will include changes to the planning system, making this a key opportunity to secure a “right to nature” for every community.

Wildlife and Countryside Link is a coalition of over 70 different organisations who have come together behind this issue. Back our call on the Government to:

🀝 make equal access to nature a core test of levelling up

🏑 make it a legal requirement in new Levelling Up laws for developers and public bodies to provide access to nature-rich local spaces for everyone

πŸ‘· provide funding for locally-accessible nature-rich spaces by extending the Levelling Up Fund to green infrastructure projects.

Add your name and support our call for #NatureForEveryone

* How Natural England’s Green Infrastructure Framework can help create better places to live
**England’s Green Space Gap

Why is access to nature so important? >

We should all be able to experience the joy of wildlife in our daily lives.

Evidence shows that even seeing nature through a window has a positive impact on our health. Creating more, and better, natural spaces and protecting and improving those we already have, will boost our mental and physical wellbeing, delivering billions of pounds in cost savings to the NHS and creating thousands of jobs.*

This is also critical for the future of nature. The Government has a legally-binding commitment to halt the decline of wildlife by 2030, but much more action is needed. Wildlife is in long-term decline and we will never be able to restore nature if so many communities are left bereft of natural spaces.

If duties on developers and public bodies to bring nature to people’s doorsteps are included in new Levelling Up laws, we can help guarantee access to nature for all, and make important gains towards Government targets to restore our struggling wildlife.

*Including Access to Green Space Review 

What are Levelling Up laws, and why are they important? >

The Government has said it wants to improve opportunities and quality of life for people more evenly across the country - it calls this 'Levelling Up'. To do this, the Government will introduce new laws, referred to as 'Levelling Up laws.' The Government's plans include investing money in towns, cities, rural and coastal areas, and giving those areas more control over that investment.

The planning system is central to delivering accessible natural spaces where we live. Planning reforms will be included in new Levelling Up laws, and offer us a vital opportunity to ensure equality in our access to nature.

Legally-binding duties on developers and public authorities are crucial. They will ensure all Government departments consider people’s access to nature when making plans and decisions and work towards delivering equal access. It will also enable Local Authorities to deliver the thriving local nature spaces that communities need and mean developers will consider nature more, when considering plans for development and preparing their proposals.

What are ’nature-rich spaces’? >

In place of sparsely planted parks dominated by run-down concrete playgrounds, we want to see thriving wildlife, abundant habitats and natural play and picnic areas. Bleak, cracking river paths can be transformed into avenues of blossoming trees with thriving reedbeds, fish, insects and birds. These enhanced natural spaces will provide natural flood, climate-change and pollution defences, and homes for wildlife, alongside being great places to walk, cycle and socialise.

All natural spaces in communities should be well-designed and varied, to help people and wildlife to thrive side-by-side. Strict standards will be needed on the quality and quantity of nature expected in these spaces, which our campaign aims to secure. 

In addition to being well-managed to enhance wildlife, these spaces should optimise exercise, play and relaxation and deliver climate and flood protection and urban cooling.