MORE than 300 people took part in a mass trespass campaigning for the right to roam.

Organised by Landscapes of Freedom, the mass trespass was held on the Brighton Downs on Saturday, July 24.

According to the group, the event was organised to call for a right to roam both locally and nationally, and for the restoration of the chalk grassland landscape across the Brighton Downs.

After gathering at the meeting point at Waterhall playing fields in Mill Road, Brighton, the group of over 300 ventured across the Brighton Downs.

The Argus: Over 300 people took part in the mass trespass. Credit: Curtis JamesOver 300 people took part in the mass trespass. Credit: Curtis James

According to Landscapes of Freedom, there is only a right to roam on 8% of England under the Countryside and Rights of Way Act (CROW, 2000).

Trespasser Nick Hayes, co-founder of the Right to Roam campaign, said the statistic is a “national scandal”.

“We all need greater access to nature on a regular basis, for our physical and mental health – our sedentary lifestyles cost society around £8 billion every year,” he said.

“That’s one reason why we’re campaigning for a greater Right to Roam over our downland, woods, rivers and Green Belt.”

The Argus: Dave Bangs, co-founder of Landscapes of Freedom. Credit: Curtis JamesDave Bangs, co-founder of Landscapes of Freedom. Credit: Curtis James

Dave Bangs, co-founder of Landscapes of Freedom, said reconnecting people with nature is “crucial for stopping global ecocide”.

“If people cannot be in nature, people can’t defend it. What the eye cannot see, the heart cannot grieve.

“Brighton council must designate all downland under its management as statutory access land.”

The Argus: Mass trespass in Brighton Credit: Curtis JamesMass trespass in Brighton Credit: Curtis James

Organisers of the event also are calling for Brighton residents to contact their councillors to designate publicly owned downland as open access land.

Landscapes of Freedom and the Right to Roam campaign are encouraging anyone who cares about access to nature to set up local groups and organise mass trespasses.

Landscapes of Freedom said: “Our trespass is a wake-up call to Brighton Council and the farmers and game shoots which dominate these Downs that we want our lost 'Landscape of Freedom' back.”

Also present at the trespass, Ruth from Traveller Pride said the event was beneficial for all.

“Having a visible presence of people from the Gypsy Roma Traveller community makes people from our community feel more safe,” she said.

“The policing bill will further criminalise trespass and is a threat to the way of life of the Gypsy Roma Traveller communities. This is cultural genocide.”

The Argus: Trespassers walked across the Brighton DownsTrespassers walked across the Brighton Downs

Speeches were made by Kelly Smith, of Black Girls Hike, as well as representatives of Sussex Students Union.

Poetry performances were also made by Anna Selby, while music was performed by musician Beans On Toast.