Make your voice heard over ‘right to roam’ proposals in Wales
The Welsh Government is yet again consulting on proposals to increase access to land and water in Wales. This is the 5th consultation in 8 years. It must be asked, given that this issue was last looked at as recently as 2015, and that the recommendations made following the Sustainability Committee’s Consultation in 2010 have not even been implemented, why a further consultation is necessary.
Of course the intention to provide better opportunities for outdoor recreation is to be applauded. However, the proposals in the latest consultation raise a number of serious concerns, which could have grave impacts on those who live and work in rural areas.
In particular, the consultation proposes to extend the ‘right to roam’ under the Countryside and Rights of Way Act (CRoW) to inland water and to remove some of the existing safeguards under CRoW for CRoW access land.
The main assumption here seems to be that there is not enough inland water available for canoeing, rafting and wild swimming. We disagree with this assumption and support voluntary access arrangements between users and owners, not least because of the potentially catastrophic impact on our rivers, with an increased risk of environmental damage, the danger of trampling spawning beds and the risk and the spread of disease in the absence of proper biosecurity measures such as the disinfection of equipment.
There is also concern about the proposal to allow horse riding and cycling on all footpaths. Whilst more access for horse riding and cycling is needed, we feel that this should not be a general right but should be negotiated at a local level on a case by case basis. This would reduce conflict not only between users but reduce negative economic impacts on land managers and protect infrastructure from damage. There are also serious the health and safety concerns for all users with a general right.
The consultation also suggests making the ‘extinguishing’ or ‘moving’ of footpaths simpler and less burdensome for the local authorities and landowners. We would very much welcome this proposal which would help deliver a rights of way network fit for current needs, benefitting user and landowner alike.
Below is a short letter of response to the consultation which we would like you to send to the Welsh Government if you agree with our concerns.
Please do make your voices heard.