Wales: Enjoying access to the outdoors in Wales

We have had a rare opportunity to influence the laws and practices for public paths and access land in Wales. The Welsh Government has consulted on access to the outdoors in chapter 4 of its document Taking Forward Wales’ Sustainable Management of Natural Resources.

The Open Spaces Society has submitted its response after taking into account the views of its members.

We support or have no objection to:

• Amend or revoke some of the items on the list of restrictions on access under the Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000 (CROW Act) (proposal 11)

• The extension of public access under the CROW Act 2000 to coast and cliff (proposal 13)

• Dogs to be on a short, fixed-length lead in the vicinity of livestock at all times of the year (proposal 18)

• An all-Wales digital map of access (proposal 19)

• Provisions to allow flexibility in relation to stock-control measure on public rights of way (proposal 21)

• A requirement on local authorities and national park authorities to develop integrated access plans (proposal 23)

• Repeal the Cycle Tracks Act 1984 to create a new type of public right of way, ‘cycle paths’ which would be shown on definitive maps (proposal 24)

• Repeal the 2026 cut-off date for recording historical routes (proposal 25)

• A statutory code for access similar to that already in place in Scotland (proposal 26)—provided it applies equally to landowners and managers an users and provided we are consulted on content and wording.

• Review the regulations and guidance relating to local access for a (proposal 27)

We oppose

• Enable cycling and horse-riding on footpaths (proposal 10). We oppose the blanket opening up of footpaths to other users but we would not object to a path-by-path identification, through local access fora and the rights of way improvement plans, of those footpaths which are suitable for cycling and horse-riding.

There are many other proposals of which we are wary until we understand what they mean; we require further information before we can state our position.

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