Deputy Minister for Housing and Local Government, Hannah Blythyn, has made an announcement about improving public access in Wales. This follows the government’s consultation in 2017 to which there were more than 16,000 responses.
The minister extols the benefits of an accessible countryside and the importance of supporting rural areas to maximise revenue from tourism. She will ‘progress significant changes to access rights and facilitate an assumption of non-motorised multi-use on access land and the public rights-of-way network’, and provide more opportunities for cyclists and horse-riders close to where they live.
Because these matters are complex, she intends to establish an independent Access Reform Group to look at the detail. We have asked to serve on this, since we have expertise in access matters and represent all types of users of paths and access land.
We trust that the minister will soon bring forward legislation to repeal the 2026 closure of definitive maps to path claims based on historic evidence. The repeal was uncontroversial when the government proposed it in the 2017 consultation.
While it is premature to celebrate significant increases in access rights, we find the minister’s statement encouraging.