The activists say that most land in England is being 'criminally misused'

Environmental activist group Extinction Rebellion is mobilising supporters to trespass on private land to protest against being denied access to “92% of the land in England” which they claim “is being criminally misused.”

It is scheduled for Saturday 24th April and participants are being encouraged to: “Peacefully climb over no trespassing or private property signs; Attach your own message to no trespassing signs; Explore creative, peaceful & covid-safe civil disobedience related to the land.” The protest is part of a wider ideological campaign against private land ownership, which has been triggered in part by Guy Shrubshole’s book, Who Owns England.

Strong reaction

Jakes Fiennes, Shooting Times contributor and conservation general manager at the Holkham estate commented directly to Shooting Times. “Humanity has become disengaged with the natural world. We all know about pangolins and orangutangs but we don’t know about the skylark or the partridge. It’s a fragile balance. Estates I’ve worked on have all welcomed people in different ways and forms – they’ve granted access.
“At Holkham there is lots of private land that’s open to the public – called parkland. The vast majority of people are not connected to the land because we are effectively an urban society so they will apply the same principle of walking through Hyde Park as walking through a farm landscape and not realising any impact. We always need to make sure that farmers are aware of this. Plus which it is the bird nesting season.”

Threat to endangered ground nesting birds

Richard Negus, hedgelayer and Shooting Times contributor spoke to Shooting UK directly, saying: “The countryside at this time of year is at its most fragile. Everything is getting ready to reproduce or already reproducing. Of great concern is the danger to ground nesting birds that this trespass will create. At this time grey partridges have paired, lapwings have their territories. All open ground nesting birds, like these and skylarks, have to behave secretively to hide their nesting sites and it will be all too easy for Extinction Rebellion protesters to stomp over and destroy delicate hidden nests. It seems to me to be the height of hypocrisy that they say they are caring for the environment when their very actions are going to harm it. They are not worthy of the title of environmentalists.”

Existing rights of way

Tim Bonner, of the Countryside Alliance said: “In England and Wales there are 140,000 miles of rights of way as well as hundreds of thousands of acres of open access land for people to use. Rules around access are there for a reason, not least to protect crops and livestock.”

Guidelines to Extinction Rebellion protesters?

Shooting UK contacted Extinction Rebellion to ask what guidelines it is giving to participants to ensure that animals, birds and biosecurity is protected and maintained but has not yet had a response.

Who is Extinction Rebellion?

It describes itself as: ” …a global environmental movement with the stated aim of using nonviolent civil disobedience to compel government action to avoid tipping points in the climate system, biodiversity loss, and the risk of social and ecological collapse.”

However, it looks like Extinction Rebellion is again on the brink of a massive own goal. This is the same group that halted packed trains in October 2019 although trains are one of the ‘greenest’ forms of transport. The action provoked angry protests from frustrated commuters and as a result Extinction Rebellion lost much of the former public support it had enjoyed. At the time spokesman Howard Rees said: “Was it the right thing to do? I am not sure.

“I think we will have to have a period of reflection. It is too early to say.”

From Extinction Rebellion’s Facebook page

Extinction Rebellion

From Extinction Rebellion’s Facebook page

 

Concerns

However some expressed concern on the Extinction Rebellion Facebook page about the planned trespass

 

Who Owns England? How We Lost Our Land and How to Take It Back. Paperback £8.19

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