The minutes of SWOAPG’s 2019 AGM are now available here. One of the important topics of discussion was the Welsh Government’s new programme for access reform, which will see a number of changes to Open Access Land, Public Rights of Way and the way recreational access is managed in Wales. Members at the AGM agreed that it was important that the specific interests of Providers should be represented in the discussions that will inform these changes; even if this meant that they might to provide additional funding in due course to enable the Coordinator to support this work.
Following the AGM, we therefore applied for the SWOAPG Coordinator to become a member of the Welsh Government’s ‘Expert Group’ on Open Access. Unfortunately, this application was unsuccessful since there was only space for three ‘user’ representatives on this group – which is disappointing but does at least mean that SWOAPG won’t immediately need to find the funds to support the Coordinator’s attendance at lots of meetings this year!
The Government has not yet announced the membership of its Expert Groups, but we do know that the following users are represented:
- Changes to open access / CRoW (amending restrictions on boating / sailing, bathing & organised games; extending CRoW to coast and cliffs) – BMC (Elfyn Jones) & Open Spaces Society (Hugh Craddock)
- Changes to rights on public paths (cycling & horse-riding on footpaths; enabling temporary diversions & exclusions; flexibility in livestock control) – Ramblers (Angela Charlton) & Open Spaces Society (Kate Ashbrook)
- Communicating access rights (mapping; integrated access plans; role of Local Access Forums) – Ramblers (Rebecca Brough), Open Spaces Society (Beverley Penney) & OpenMTB / Cycling UK (Tom Hutton)
Members of the Outdoor Alliance (which is a loose collaboration of organisations involved in Outdoor Activity provision in Wales) – including representatives of SWOAPG / WATO, BMC, Open Spaces Society and Ramblers – met on 9 Jan to discuss how the views of the wider outdoor sector can be reflected by those representatives on the Expert Groups. Following this constructive meeting, SWOAPG is confident that the Outdoor Alliance will provide an effective forum to ensure that the interests of Providers are represented in the Welsh Government’s work.
As well as play an active role in the Alliance’s discussions, the SWOAPG Coordinator will also continue to represent WATO and the interests of Providers in the Welsh Government’s parallel discussions on the future for access to inland waters – and will keep Members informed as all these discussions progress.