Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs written question – answered at on 22 February 2021.

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Photo of Laurence Robertson Laurence Robertson Conservative, Tewkesbury

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, if he will take steps to increase the number of bridleways; and if he will make a statement.

Photo of Rebecca Pow Rebecca Pow The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

The Government is a great supporter of the health and wellbeing benefits that access to the countryside can bring. As articulated in the 25 Year Environment Plan, public access to the countryside provides a huge range of benefits, including improving physical and mental health and supporting local communities and economies.

The Government is supporting and enhancing access to the countryside in several ways, for example by completing the England Coast Path, supporting our network of National Trails, ensuring that rights of way are recorded and protected, as well as developing ways to support access through financial provisions in the Agriculture Act for environmental land management. Our new schemes will make a significant contribution to the goals of the 25 Year Environment Plan, including beauty, heritage and engagement with the environment. Public access is a key way that people can engage with the environment and so supporting greater and more varied access is an important aspect of achieving this goal.

We are looking at ways in which our new agri-environment schemes could fund the creation of new paths, such as footpaths and bridleways, providing greater and safe access for cyclists, horse riders and pedestrians. Working in close collaboration with stakeholders we are exploring the best ways of making further enhancements to our wonderful access network.

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No20 people think not

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