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Review of Access for Outdoor Recreation in Wales

A green paper consultation - preliminary report of Government proposals published in order to provoke discussion - on access and outdoor recreation in Wales is due out very soon. It will explore the headline question of: “Is it necessary to change legislation in this area, and if so, what should be changed?

Potentially, this could have the biggest impact on how the outdoors is used for recreation, education and adventure tourism, since the Countryside and Rights of Way Act (CRoW) 2000 was introduced.

In July last year, the Welsh Government (WG) announced a review of access and outdoor recreation legislation. At a series of workshop presentations for key organisations in September, John Watkins, WG Head of Outdoor Recreation Policy, outlined the reasons why. These included: securing better access for responsible outdoor recreation, modernisation and simplification of the current regulatory framework, and resolving access to and on inland water.

Chris Wright, CEO Snowdonia-Active, said: "It's great that the Welsh Government are acknowledging the need for improved access to Wales' open spaces. People enjoying outdoor recreation in Wales contribute a huge amount to the economy through tourism plus there are the health benefits for people living in Wales and wanting to visit the outdoors more often. And all of this activity goes on with a very light touch in terms of environmental impact."

While farmers, anglers and landowners have been quick to make their feelings known in the press about any legislative change as well as campaigning under a single banner, Sustainable Access Campaign Cymru (SACC), the outdoor sector's response hasn't been as obvious.

However, yesterday the British Mountaineering Council (BMC) launched their 'Open Wales' initiative to "encourage the Welsh Government by demonstrating our support of the many benefits a more accessible countryside would bring."

Unsurprisingly, given the historical conflict between anglers and other inland water users, the situation about access to water has generated a great deal of heated debate. The Welsh Government's response was: "It is necessary to state on record that the discussions were held to consider what legislative or regulatory approach could be adopted in relation to access to water which could usefully reconcile the conflicts which currently exist in what is now an 'unfettered access' situation."

If you wish to receive the Welsh Government e-bulletin on outdoor recreation, which will contain the latest news on the review of access legislation then follow this link. In order to receive it you must register, and then select Outdoor Recreation News from the list.

Note: You may find the BMC ‘support’ button showing as already clicked if you are on a shared internet, such as in an office or public building, as only one vote is allowed per IP address.

Topic: Legislation of access and outdoor recreation in Wales, Open Wales.

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