Welsh access on hold

24 July 2018

Walkers near Devil’s Bridge, Ceredigion

Last year we responded to a consultation from the Welsh Government, Taking forward Wales’s sustainable management of natural resources. Chapter 4 was about access to the outdoors.

We welcomed its proposal for extended access to coast and cliff, riverbanks and lakesides, an all-Wales digital map of access, and the repeal of the 2026 closure of definitive maps to claims based on historical evidence. We expressed concern about other aspects of the paper such as a law to allow cycling and horse-riding on footpaths, considering that such a plan should be based on the merits of each case.

However, we were hopeful that Wales might pioneer some new access initiatives. Thus we were disappointed when Hannah Blythyn, the environment minister, announced in June that ‘There were strong but differing reviews on how best to reform access legislation. We therefore believe that now is not the right time for substantive reform.’ However, the government is ‘committed to exploring selected aspects of change where there was greater consensus’.

We have therefore written to the minister, pointing out that the repeal of the 2026 cut off was supported by most of those who responded to this point, and urging her to escalate this proposal since there is now little time before the cut-off will take effect.