Today, the British Mountaineering Council launched a campaign aiming to help raise awareness of the Welsh Government radically reviewing laws regarding access to the outdoors. The BMC have named their campaign 'Open Wales' and its purpose is to encourage the Welsh Government to open access further throughout Wales by showing support of its benefits.
The review of the legislation will look at how outdoor users access and enjoy the Welsh countryside, with the Welsh government aiming to improve access for walkers, climbers, canoeists, wild swimmers and anglers to enjoy Wales. This will be achieved by amending laws on where people can and cannot go, whilst also making them less bureaucratic and more user-friendly.
In particular, the review will focus on three main areas:
- Increasing responsible access to the outdoors, both in urban and rural areas.
- Improving our extensive public path network.
- Increasing the amount of land available for allotments and community gardening.
Tina Gardner, of the BMC released a press statement:
"The BMC fully supports the aim of improving access and we are asking the outdoor-going public at large to join us in pledging their support under the banner of our new 'Open Wales' campaign. Access laws which are simple and easy to understand will increase opportunities for walkers, climbers and the public alike.
We are asking those who support the idea of increasing access to the outdoors in Wales to visit the BMC website and pledge their support HERE"
Some landowning and angling bodies are not behind the intitative, arguing that 'unfettered access could lead to a serious impact on ecology and stock with disturbance and damage to crops, hedges and waterways'.
However, Elfyn Jones, BMC Access Officer for Wales responded, commenting:
"The review brings a rare and vital opportunity to drastically improve access for the people of Wales and its many visitors. Responsible recreation and conservation have been proven to go hand in hand. That's why we're calling on everyone who values access to our countryside, mountains, rivers and coastline to support our Open Wales campaign to see access laws extended and simplified."