NFU Cymru not that into the idea

You’re probably excited about the potential for more access to trails. In a not entirely surprising announcement it seems farmers are more wary.

>>> Research reveals walkers do more damage to trails than mountain bikers

More rights of way access for bikes is what is being mooted in the Trails For Wales campaign from CyclingUK and OPenMTB. The idea is also covered in the Welsh Government’s recently-closed consultation called ‘Taking Forward Wales: Sustainable Management of Natural Resources’.

Rights of way and regulation change

The Government’s potential proposals are about much more than just letting bikes go on footpaths. It also includes extending CRoW Access (AKA Right To Roam) to rivers and lakes, removing limits on CRoW land for camping, hang-gliding and “organised games”. There’s also more potential for landowners to be fined under new water/air/soil regulations for the agriculture industry.

Unfortunately not everyone is perhaps so keen on the idea, or keen on the idea in its current form at least. Speaking to Farming UK, the NFU Cymru (National Farming Union of Wales) has raised some discouraging words.

NFU Cymru statements

NFU Cymru President, Stephen James: “The consultation process has been severely hampered by the bundling together of a raft of wide ranging proposals into a 10 chapter consultation. We are clear, given their significance, each chapter should have been the subject of separate consultation in their own right.

“In the context of EU withdrawal, farmers in Wales are operating in a period of profound uncertainty. While Brexit negotiations have begun, at this stage we do not know the terms of our future trading relationships or the shape of future domestic agricultural policy and regulation.

“Now is simply not the time to introduce an entirely new tier of regulation adding cost and complexity to farming in Wales.”

>>> 80% of mountain bikers ride on footpaths

Hedd Pugh, Chair of NFU Cymru Rural Affairs Board: “Access users tell us they want clearly defined routes of specified distance and difficulty and, in our view, the limited resources available should be targeted to better utilise the existing resource – Wales has more public rights of way per square km than any other UK nation and over 460,000 hectares of access land – a threefold increase since devolution.

“Clearer rules around public access with dogs are also necessary and Government needs to go much further in protecting livestock through legislation and enforcement.

“We strongly reject proposals that risk the safety of the public, increase costs and liabilities on farmers, reduce opportunities for farmers to develop diversified income streams and undermine tourism and recreation businesses that have been built up over many years.”