Will There Be Open Access For Wales? ‘No’ seems to be the official answer…

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The Welsh Government asked for our opinions about a ‘Scottish style’ open access for the Welsh countryside. We responded in our thousands, overwhelmingly in the positive.

They listened. And then they seem to have ignored us in favour of a quieter life…

Here’s the response to the government’s decision from Stace King at OpenMTB, the pro-access mountain bike campaign group:

Trails for Wales update – it’s bad news.

The Welsh Government has stated that it will not be proceeding with significant access reform following its recent consultation on the issue.

But not this way.

We at OpenMTB are both deeply disappointed and somewhat perplexed, as the public consultation carried out last year was overwhelmingly in favour of the administration’s own suggestion of creating single-status rights-of-way – effectively allowing cycling on most footpaths. There were around 16,000 responses in total, with more than 70 per cent backing the plan.

However Welsh Minister for Environment Hannah Blythyn has now said: “There were strong but differing views on how best to reform access legislation. We therefore believe that now is not the right time for substantive reform.”

Not only does the Welsh Government’s decision ignore the huge demand for change in a country that – in places – is particularly poorly served with legitimate MTB routes, it also ignores the huge contribution that active tourism already makes to the Welsh economy and the potential for growth in the sector, as well as the general health benefits that would accrue from improved access.

The access gate remains closed in Wales.

We are awaiting more detailed feedback from the WG as to why it has disregarded a landslide in favour of its own proposals, with mountain bikers making up the bulk of the largest-ever response to a consultation by the administration.

In the wake of his disappointment we are determined to continue to push for access reform in Wales as well as in England – and we hope to continue to harness the impressive determination and focus shown by the mountain biking community during this campaign.

For more on OpenMTB, visit its website: http://openmtb.org.uk

Chipps

Singletrack Editor

Chipps wasn’t around for the dawn of mountain biking in the UK, but he likes to claim that he arrived in time for second breakfast (about the time he shows up for work, then…) starting in the bike trade in 1990 and becoming a full time mountain bike journalist at the start of 1994. Over the subsequent quarter century, he has seen mountain bike culture flourish and diversify and bike technology go from rigid steel frames to fully suspended carbon fibre (and sometimes back to rigid steel as well.)

His riding style is best described as ‘medium, wheels on the ground, trail riding’ though he’s been spotted doing everything from endurance downhill racing to 24 hour cross country racing. He favours mid-travel trail bikes and claims to be wheel-size, gear, brake and tyre agnostic. In fact, his garage spans most bicycle flavours, taking in steel hardtails, carbon trail bikes, even a mountain bike tandem, along with road, touring and gravel/cyclocross bikes.

While he’s happy to chat about bikes all day, his real interest is in the people and places that bikes can introduce you to and he talks as fondly about the trails he’s ridden and riders he’s met as the bikes that took him there.

Comments (6)

    This is very disappointing and indeed, perplexing. I guess I’ll keep on holidaying in Scotland.

    Ditto. Even though North Wales is only an hour and a half to two hours away I’ve visited Scotland, which is 3 1/2 hours away, much more (by an order of about 20) over the last five years. Oh well, the Welsh must not want me there.

    Does seem odd to know that there is a real desire to change it but due to differing opinion son how they are sticking their heads back in the sand…surely the next stage is to then talk out the various options and see what can work together?

    The view from folk who’ve been involved in discussions between user groups is that in the post-Brexit political climate, there’s an unwillingness to commit resources to anything too radical, not to mention huge uncertainty about what happens next.

    Obviously it’s a massive kick in the teeth after all the positive noises the Welsh government were making, but fresh plans are already afoot.

    + 1 for brexit.

    Also I imagine the landowners and farmers have lobbied against this too…

    WG have much more important things to worry about at the moment than something as ultimately trivial as this.

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