Scottish-style access coming to Wales?
Latest statement from the Welsh Government agrees that a better and fairer approach for outdoor recreation is needed.
Key quotes from statement
- “Paths and areas of access land have different rules and regulations on who can go there and what activities are allowed, which may have no relationship to the actual conditions on the ground.”
- “There is unnecessary inconsistency in the way paths and places open to the public are currently recorded, changed, and restricted.”
- “The law needs to reflect current recreational needs.”
- “Outdoor recreation already makes a significant contribution to the economy and generates considerable health and social benefits for the population.”
Lesley Griffiths, Cabinet Secretary for Environment and Rural Affairs, has authored a written statement entitled ‘Improving Opportunities to Access the Outdoors for Recreation‘ and within this statement are a number of exciting quotes.
“Wales needs a better and fairer approach to public access for outdoor recreation which […] provides for the wide range of activities people want to participate in.”
A couple of years ago the Welsh Government undertook a consultation on improving outdoor access for people wishing to do recreational things, such as hiking, climbing, mountain biking and canoeing.
Almost 6,000 responses to the consultation were received. The majority of which viewed the current system as too complex and burdensome.
A definite influence on all of this has been Cycling UK’s Trails for Wales campaign. The campaign is hoping to provide Wales with the open access that has been enjoyed by Scottish mountain bikers since 2003.
Tom Hutton of the similarly popular access campaign group OpenMTB: “”The Welsh Government have just undertaken an exercise to evaluate just what the current system costs to administer etc etc… And obviously, it ain’t good news. We’re hoping that’s going to be a real driver”.
Let’s not get too excited yet. There is a long way to go. And a big driver behind all of this is a simplification of access classification and how it is administered ie. money-saving.
In these times of austerity it’s going to be all-too-tempting for governmental bodies to go for the cheapest answer rather than the best actual solution. We shall see. Fingers crossed!