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Written Statement - Green Paper: Improving opportunities for access to the outdoors for responsible recreation – consultation summary report

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Access to the outdoors for recreation is a key part of our natural resources policy.
Carl Sargeant, Minister for Natural Resources

The consultation on Improving Opportunities to Access the Outdoors for Responsible Recreation ran from 10 July 2015 to 02 October 2015. The consultation examined the current legislative framework for access to the outdoors for recreation in Wales and explored options for change. The paper drew from the evidence gathered during an earlier review of the legislative framework for access (2014) and encouraged discussion on a sliding scale of potential options, including:

  • Reform procedures - making improvements to the administration of current access legislation
  • Remove restrictions - removing some of the restrictions on the range of activities that can take place on rights of way and access land
  • Revise access – extending the definition of access land to include other areas
  • New rights and responsibilities – implementing an entirely new access settlement, which allows much greater use of land for responsible recreation.

A summary of responses is being published today.

A total of 5,796 responses were received to the consultation, including 22 responses to the youth version issued simultaneously with the Green Paper. 165 of these responses arrived after the closing date but the comments have been taken into account.

The consultation responses provided a wealth of information about the types of recreational activities occurring across Wales. They also provided an insight into the challenges sometimes faced by land managers, farmers and other commercial interests. The consultation generated strong and sometimes polarised views about the current system of access to the outdoors and of how this might be improved.

Key areas identified by the responses include, improving the way we record public rights of way, reviewing the rights associated with public paths, clarification of rights associated with access to water, and consideration of a statutory code.

No decisions have been made on whether any changes should be taken forward. The key aim of the consultation was to gather information and views from people about how potential improvements to the legislative system could impact future demand for outdoor recreation; and their potential impact on land and water concerns, including existing users, land managers and the natural environment.

The responses will help inform decisions by the next Welsh Ministers.