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Changes to outdoor recreation access regulations in the pipeline in Wales

Words: Roger Milne

Changes in the way public access for outdoor recreation is regulated and developed are now in prospect after Leslie Griffiths, cabinet secretary for Environment and Rural Affairs, acknowledged that the current system is too complex and burdensome.

She said consultation had revealed strong, and sometimes polarised, views on how it might be improved.

This exercise highlighted the wide range of outdoor activities taking place across Wales, but also exposed challenges faced by land managers and flaws and inconsistencies in the current system.

Griffiths said this week she would develop proposals on how current laws can be improved in order to:

  • Achieve consistency in the opportunities available for participation and how activities are restricted and regulated;
  • Simplify procedures for designating and recording public access; and
  • Improve existing advisory forums and better communicate access rights and responsibilities.

The minister said: “Outdoor recreation makes a significant contribution to the economy and provides considerable health and social benefits. This is demonstrated by the huge success of the Wales Coast Path, which has increased Wales’s profile at home and abroad. We now have the opportunity to build on this success. 

“Wales needs an approach to public access for outdoor recreation that is less burdensome to administer, provides for a wide range of activities, but at the same time respects the concerns of landowners.”

“Whilst we can learn from other countries’ approaches, Wales requires laws which suit its cultural and physical landscape. We are very much aware of the concerns of landowners and the aspirations of access users.

“I will publish our proposals at the earliest opportunity for a system that works in the best interest of all parties.”

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