Outdoor Groups Form Alliance For Welsh Access

by Hannah Dobson 7

We told you last week that there was a new working group due to be announced that brings together a range of outdoor interests. Sure enough, we’ve just received the press release below, and Cycling UK and OpenMTB are at the table. This is a great step forward, as it brings together groups which have often had conflicting interests in the past – working together towards land access policies that can benefit us all has got to be a good thing.

Before you go on to the press release, a reminder:

The consultation on Welsh Land Access closes on 30 September. 

Walk/ride/trot this way?

Outdoor groups form alliance to make “Wales world class destination for those who love the outdoors”

The representative bodies for walkers, disabled ramblers, cyclists, equestrians, mountaineers, cavers and those who enjoy recreational activities in, on or beside water have for the first time decided to work together as the alliance, Outdoor Access Wales, in order to respond to the Welsh Government’s proposals to improve public access to the countryside.

“Taking forward Wales’ sustainable management of natural resources” is the latest consultation from the Welsh Government. It seeks views from the public on new regulatory approaches to manage Wales’ natural resources sustainably, and makes a number of recommendations to update and improve current laws on accessing rural Wales.

Outdoor Access Wales was formed with the purpose of having a joint voice for membership organisations involved in supporting responsible access for recreation on the land and coast of Wales. It wants to help more people to enjoy their leisure time in a world class Welsh outdoors. The alliance believes the benefits of improved access is not solely about increasing the potential for people to enjoy recreational activities, but will also improve the health of a nation, help users to respect the environment, privacy, safety and livelihoods of those living or working in the outdoors, and strengthen rural economies through an increase in tourism.

The alliance brings together The British Horse Society, British Mountaineering Council, Cambrian Caving Council, Cycling UK, Disabled Ramblers, OpenMTB, Open Spaces Society, Ramblers Cymru and Waters of Wales. While each organisation has individual concerns related to the area of special interest, they are united by their shared aim to improve access in Wales for active outdoor activity.

A spokesperson for Outdoor Access Wales said:

Being active in the Welsh outdoors is already integral to how many people in Wales spend their leisure time. Wales also has a growing reputation as an attractive destination for so many outdoor activities for people across the UK, but it could be so much better. The Welsh Government has clearly recognised this potential, and Outdoor Access Wales will work with the government to help make Wales a world class destination for those who love the outdoors.

“Outdoor Access Wales shares the Welsh Government’s ambition for improved access to the outdoors for non-motorised recreation. It’s going to mean more people of all ages and abilities can take pleasure in the beauty of Wales right from their doorstep. It’s also going to prove a real draw for people from further afield who will want to visit and explore our villages, coast and countryside, bolstering the rural economy as they do so.”

Comments (7)

  1. Maybe I should just be grateful for their support but I can’t help but be suspicious and think ‘what’s in this for the ramblers’?

    I thought the essence of the Welsh Land Access review was to see if all Public Rights of Way should be open to all (foot, bike, horse) as long as you’re not using a motorized vehicle. Is that right?

    If that’s the case then ramblers have nothing to gain as they already have complete access to all public rights of way.

    I must be missing something.

  2. From what I understand its more a case of them wanting representation on something that will impact them whether they’re there or not, so at least they can have a say in decisions made in the future rather than just rely on everything remaining the same.

  3. It could be because the likes of the NFU, Countryside Alliance and at least one of the National Parks Authority are against the proposal. It probably gives recreational users a noted voice.

  4. “What’s in this for the ramblers?” is a good point. But they’re the biggest outdoor user group and they need to be included in discussions.

    There are ways in which ramblers stand to benefit from access reform, even with all they currently enjoy – better access to coastal areas, for example. As MartiB says, the NFU/Countryside Alliance position is “things are fine as they are” which is even less progressive than the Ramblers (who support wider access, but only on a case-by-case basis).

    Another argument is that they’ll benefit from access reform as there are a lot of bridleways which are currently honeypots and conflict hotspots – Snowdon, for example. Access to the wider network would let cyclists and horses lawfully use routes that were less crowded with people coming up on the train or doing the 3 Peaks Challenge.

  5. Its a shame that you can’t get your act sufficiently together to use a Welsh OS maps when commenting on access to the Welsh countryside but instead choose to use a map of northern England. Ignorant.

    https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2018/mar/15/anti-welsh-bigotry-eddie-jones-england-brexit

  6. Did someone get out of bed the wrong side this morning? 🙂
    That’s a stock image of a map that we use. It’s a photo of a map we have on the wall. Unfortunately we don’t have shelves full of every OS map of the country so that we can upload county and country-specific maps for every story.

  7. Wouldn’t have been too hard to find a map of somewhere in Wales to comment on access to the Welsh countryside. Trivial for you perhaps but not all of us. Diolch.

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