British Cycling and Welsh Cycling has welcomed the news from cabinet secretary for the environment and rural affairs, Lesley Griffiths, that she will begin the process of reforming countryside access legislation in Wales, and has urged the Department for Environment and Rural Affairs in England to match their commitment.
Writing on the Welsh government website, Griffiths said:
“Wales needs 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. I intend to develop proposals for consultation on how the current laws could be improved.
“For these reasons I will consult on proposals for making improvements in three key areas:
- 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
- Improving existing advisory forums and how access rights and responsibilities are communicated to all interests."
Griffiths was writing after considering the results of a consultation into the issue which received 5,800 responses. The consultation invited people to give their views on the benefits and constraints of the current system and to suggest how it could be improved to support greater opportunities for public access.
British Cycling’s Mountain Bike Leadership manager, Dan Cook, said:
“We’re very pleased with the response from Lesley Griffiths and her department and we believe this is a great step towards a model that has proven to be so successful in Scotland.
“We know that opening up the countryside for cycling can have a huge impact on the local economy and can make a big difference to the health of the nation as a whole.
“Scotland has done it, Wales are making great progress and now we need England and the Department for Environment and Rural Affairs to follow suit.”
Welsh Cycling’s chief executive officer, Anne Adams-King also welcomed the news.
“Welsh Cycling is delighted to see the announcement today by Lesley Griffiths about the next stages for improving the access to the outdoors for recreation.
“Wales has a stunning landscape, which includes some of the best mountain biking in the world. Making the access to this easier and simpler can only be beneficial in terms of the health and wellbeing of the population, improve tourism, and the development of mountain biking.
“The links to the Active Travel act and Well-being of Future Generations act is also key, and will help to link these bits of legislation together, and deliver against the statutory requirements of both acts.”
British Cycling and Welsh Cycling are working with partners including OpenMTB to ensure the proposed changes enable clearer and more inclusive access. The organisations believe that where public access exists to outdoor places then that access should include responsible mountain biking.
Read British Cycling's initial letter to Lesley Griffiths calling for wider mountain bike access.