Our access resolutions for the new year

Posted by Ed Douglas on 03/01/2013
Outdoor lobbying: this year's hike with the parliamentary mountaineering group

The BMC Access team were busier than ever last year influencing policy and fighting for access throughout England and Wales. Check out some of the highlights from 2012 and what we’re planning on your behalf for 2013.

We thought you’d be interested in an easy-to-read digest of what the BMC’s dedicated access volunteers and officers achieved in the last 12 months influencing policy and keeping an eye on the constant flow of problems around the country. There were big challenges at a national level as the government seeks to save money but lots of good news too:

  • Natural England and DEFRA are reviewing the governance of national parks and looking at how national trails are managed. We’ve been feeding into that process and keeping a close eye on the roll-out of coastal access.
  • We’ve produced a useful booklet on occupiers’ liability to help reassure landowners about the low risk of legal action they face in allowing climbing. We also organised a highly successful conference on this in  Derbyshire this autumn.
  • Forestry has been in the news a lot in the past year, and we’ve been fighting hard to represent the interests of climbers to government and through the Forest Access User Group. We’re also keeping a close eye on the ash die-back crisis.
  • In Wales, a review of access land is underway, and we’ve been looking after walking and climbing interests in that process. Wales is also creating a new statutory body to manage the environment and access. We’ve had a lot of involvement in that too.
  • The outdoors is poorly resourced and often ignored by the Welsh government and we’ve been fighting to change that. We contributed to the Living Wales document that charts the future of the Welsh countryside.
  • We’ve had some great access successes in Pembroke, with restrictions removed from Mowing Word, reduced restrictions at Stackpole and year-round access agreed on Range West.
  • Wales is currently in the grip of several high-profile energy-sector planning applications affecting the upland environment and access. We’ve been commenting on these too.
  • The BMC has been busy on its own crags, improving access at Craig y Longridge and getting to work on unwanted plants, treating Japanese knotweed at Wilton 1, bramble cutting at Aldery Cliff and improving the quality of the SSSI at Horseshoe Quarry.
  • There are big changes underway in the Peak District, as the park authority hands the management of important climbing sites like the Roaches and Stanage to third parties. We’ve been working with the authority and other bodies to protect our interests.
  • We launched a big renovation project in the Avon Gorge to reinvigorate one of British climbing’s historically important areas, with cash from ACT.
  • The BMC now has a number of working groups developing policies and ideas in all the different areas we work in. We’ll soon have a Landscape Charter to help us decide when and where to get involved with issues that affect the landscapes we love.

That’s just a taste of what we were up to in 2012. This year promises to be no different. Here are a few of the issues that are coming up in 2013:

  • Quarries will be a big theme of our work this year. We set up the Quarries Working Group in 2012 to look at gaining access to redundant quarries. In 2013 a special project officer will work on the planning and legal issues and social barriers that stop climbers getting access to disused quarries. We’re also planning a conference on the future use of quarries for later in the year.
  • Human waste at popular crags is becoming a greater problem and we’re launching the BMC Poo Campaign in 2013 to educate climbers and explore ways to reduce our impact.
  • We’ll be implementing plans to restore the path up to Dinas Cromlech.
  • The Regional Access Database will get an IT makeover to make it more useful and smartphone friendly.
  • Improved access to the Welsh countryside and coast is on our agenda for 2013. We’re hoping the Welsh government will look at an approach to access similar to the Scottish Outdoor Charter.
  • There’s a green guide to Northumberland in the works.


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1) Anonymous User
05/01/2013
Great work, thanks for everything in 2012, and I look forward a (hopefully drier) 2013.
2) Anonymous User
05/01/2013
Current editions of the Ordnance Survey Maps no longer show the Cumbrian Coastal Way. When I approached Ordnance Survey, they referred me to the local authority who, it turned out, had allowed access agreements with some landowners to lapse. After complaints from walkers who had been diverted off the route, the local authority to avoid upsetting future visitors to the path requested removal of the route from the OS maps.

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