Our Director for Wales Rachel Evans writes:

Cabinet Secretary Lesley Griffiths AM has announced her intention to go out to yet another consultation on “Improving Opportunities to Access the Outdoors for Recreation”.

In a written statement the Minister set out her proposal for consultation on how current laws could be improved stating that there needs to be a “better and fairer approach to public access for outdoor recreation which is less burdensome to administer, provides for the wide range of activities people want to participate in, with sensible safeguards for land management activities”.

The Countryside Alliance has always supported improved access to the countryside but we would oppose open access to land and water for the reasons we set out in our response to the second consultation on this topic in 2015.

The three key areas of proposals open to consultation are:

  • Achieving consistency in the opportunities available for participation in different activities and how activities are restricted and regulated.
  • Simplifying and harmonising procedures for designating and recording public access, and
  • Improving existing advisory forums and how access rights and responsibilities are communicated to all interests.

I for one, do believe that we are about to see another push for open access to land and water. Many opportunities for outdoor recreation are either not being utilised or are not being acknowledged by those who, for ideological reasons, would prefer access to be imposed by legislation on the basis of free and unregulated access to land and water in Wales.

If we are serious about increasing opportunities we must do so in a way that reaches out to landowners and riparian owners and to the general public. The Countryside Alliance believes that better use of existing access would achieve the aim more quickly and cost effectively and therefore should be the starting point.

The Alliance has already begun building a series of case studies on how our members and supporters have been champions in improving access for outdoor recreation whether walking cycling, fishing – any activity you feel that has contributed to opening up the doors to the countryside.  I would very much welcome your input.

You can e-mail details to me [email protected] I would be pleased to hear from you.

Rachel Evans
Director for Wales
Follow Rachel on Twitter @CAevs