Following this month’s Welsh Assembly elections, won by the Welsh Labour Party, the BMC will be seeking continued commitment from the Welsh Government to support access and conservation in the countryside, and to recognise the social, cultural and economic benefits of outdoor recreation.
The BMC recognises that the issues affecting the interests of climbers, hill walkers and mountaineers in Wales are often significantly different and require a different approach and solutions to elsewhere in the UK. To this end in 2009, the BMC appointed its first ever Wales based officer, recognising the political and cultural differences and opportunities available in Wales.
The BMC is now looking to arrange meetings with the new Environment and Sports Ministers, and will be asking the new Labour administration in Wales to include the following actions in its work programme for the next period of government:
- A full commitment to implement coastal access powers granted under Section 300 of the Marine and Coastal Act; these were included in the last administration’s manifesto, but not implemented.
- A full and thorough decadal review of CROW mapping, taking account of recreational interests, not simply landowners’ views, including areas of land that were not previously considered as useful for public recreation due to their small size.
- Protect landscapes – a review of the TAN 8 planning guidance, giving greater protection to non-designated “wild” lands and lands which are of recreational and landscape value.
- Recognise social, cultural and economic value of mountaineering, hill walking and climbing, and ensure that suitable support and protection is given to enable this sector of the economy to be nurtured and further developed, particularly among the local population.
- A full commitment to protect current public access and encouragement of new public access opportunities, with implementation of monitoring and compliance of access provisions under Glastir, the all Wales agri-environment scheme.
- Encourage and incentivise quarry owners and local authorities to recognise the potential recreational value of abandoned/disused quarries within the planning system, and to encourage planners and local authorities to see recreational use as a legitimate final use of quarries beyond their operational life.
- Public lands – commitment to protect public ownership of lands that have a recreational, community and landscape value.
- The Welsh Government, through its delivery body Sport Wales, to fully recognise and support all mountaineering activities on a scale and level that is commensurate with participation and interest levels and that reflects continued sustainable growth in the level of participation. In particular, and as a minimum, to commit to continue funding to support Mountain Leader Training Wales, the North Wales Outdoor Partnership and the Overseas Expedition Grant Service.
These proposals will support and protect legitimate access for quiet enjoyment of Wales’s natural assets, including to coastal areas; protect landscapes and environments of natural and recreational interest; encourage the local and visiting population to engage in healthy recreational outdoor activities; recognise and expand the considerable financial value of the outdoor sector to the economy of rural and coastal Wales (draft findings of a report produced by Cardiff University suggest that tourism with mountaineering as its main theme is worth at least £26 million per year to the Welsh economy, with walking tourism worth £532 million); and encourage local people to gain the vocational skills and opportunities available to participate, work and excel in the outdoor activity sector.
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