Press Release

Trails for Wales leads to the Senedd

Trails for Wales supporters outside the Senedd
(L to R) Nic Pow, Emyr Davies, John Griffiths AM, Gwenda Owen (Photo: Nigel Pugh)
Top cycling bodies are meeting with Welsh Assembly Members to voice their support for CTC, the national cycling charity, and Open MTB’s campaign Trails for Wales, today (23 September 2015) at Roald Dahl Plass just outside the Senedd in Cardiff.

Trails for Wales is the rallying cry for the UK’s leading cycle bodies as they respond to the Welsh Government’s consultation “Improving opportunities to access the outdoors for responsible recreation” which runs until 2 October, and call for open access to the rights of way network as enjoyed by Scotland.

The campaign hopes to follow in the footsteps of the greater access rights that now exist in Scotland, since 2003. Increased mountain bike access benefits the Scottish economy by £46.5 million a year, with indirect expenditure of up to £119 million, and generates over 1,300 jobs.

Since the campaign started on 1 September, over 2,600 off-road and mountain bike enthusiasts have written to the Welsh Government in support of “Trails for Wales”. This high level of engagement is reportedly the most the Welsh Government has ever had with the off-road cycling community. Recent signatories include current World Enduro and former World Downhill Champion Tracy Moseley and Scottish adventurer Mark Beaumont.

The benefits of Trails for Wales are manifold. Responsible access will be an added boon to Wales’ booming tourism industry, and will help to encourage a more active and healthier Welsh population.”
John Griffiths AM

A gathering of cycling interests met Welsh politicians on Wednesday 23 September at 12:30pm at the Senedd in Cardiff, to highlight the high level of support there is for increased off-road cycling access in Wales.

CTC and Open MTB are calling for all outdoor enthusiasts to support their campaign Trails for Wales, which they can do at www.ctc.org.uk/campaign/trails-wales  

CTC’s Trails for Wales Campaigner, Gwenda Owen, said:

“Wales has been an off-road cycling hub for years but there are still so many more trails out there that are currently not open to cyclists but could be.

“By opening up rights of way for cyclists, Wales could become an even better off-road destination.

“We have seen in Scotland just how much more money cycling tourism can bring to rural economies, so to have the support of big hitters in the cycling industry helps to show how serious business takes this opportunity for economic growth.”

Mark Beaumont said:

“I would love to see the Scottish Outdoor Access Code, which allows a right to roam for all non-motorised vehicles, to be adopted across the UK, and it is fantastic to see the Welsh Government open to consultation on this, which would allow mountain bikers the freedom to explore freely, as long as they respect the land, its farming and any areas of conservation.”

John Griffiths AM for Newport East said:

“Responsible access is a clear way to ensure that the most people get the most enjoyment out of our beloved Welsh countryside, which is why I’m supporting CTC and Open MTB’s call of Trails for Wales.

Emyr Davies, Welsh Downhill Champion, said:

“Trails for Wales will enable much-needed changes to open up off-road racing in Wales. It’s a growth sport in Wales, despite current restrictions. If managed well so as to prevent conflict, Trails for Wales will help inspire the next generation of Welsh cyclists and attract thousands through tourism.”

The coalition of cycle groups are calling on everyone to write to the Welsh Government in support of their response, and can do so through a simple online tool

You can download photos from the Trail for Wales Photo gallery please credit CTC.org.uk and Nigel Pugh. 

Notes to Editors: 
  1. Mark Beaumont is a TV presenter and broadcaster, record breaking round the world cyclist and ultra endurance adventurer. His epic documentaries have taken viewers to over 100 countries, into the Arctic, the high mountains and recently around the Commonwealth. Further information can be found here: http://markbeaumontonline.com/
  2. CTC is the UK’s largest cycling charity, and inspires and helps people to cycle and keep cycling, whatever kind of cycling they do or would like to do. Over a century’s experience tells us that cycling is more than useful transport; it makes you feel good, gives you a sense of freedom and creates a better environment for everyone: www.ctc.org.uk
  3. Open MTB has been formed to act co-operatively on behalf of organisations on issues that concern mountain bikers, such as improved access rights, user group consultations, trail improvement and maintenance etc. Early in 2015 representatives from a number of mountain bike associations met journalists and industry experts from across England and Wales to see how they could work together for the benefit of our community.  In the past it has been difficult for governing bodies to consult our diverse community due to the lack of a single point of contact, and Open MTB was formed as a result. www.facebook.com/Open MTB / www.twitter.com/Open MTB  
  4. Trails for Wales is also supported by British Cycling and Welsh Cycling: https://www.britishcycling.org.uk/mtb/article/20150902-mountain-bike-Bri...  
  5. Figures on the economic benefits of mountain biking for Scotland are from the report The Economic Benefit of Mountain Biking in Scotland http://www.tourism-intelligence.co.uk/develop-your-business/research-sum...
  6. The Welsh Government’s consultation “Improving opportunities to access the outdoors for responsible recreation” can be found in English at: http://gov.wales/consultations/environmentandcountryside/improving-oppor... and Welsh at: http://gov.wales/consultations/environmentandcountryside/improving-oppor...
  7. Following the Land Reform Act 2003 Scotland enjoys ‘presumed access’. This means there is a presumption of “responsible access”, subject to exemptions laid out in the Outdoor Access Code (eg forestry operations). Consequently, Scottish off-road and leisure cycle tourism are booming and contribute between £236.2m and £358m a year.
  8. Currently in Wales the Rights of Way system is based upon recorded historic use of routes instead of suitability. As a result, cyclists have rights to use just 21% of the network, with permission to ride along narrow rocky sheep tracks on steep ground but denied access to thousands of miles of public footpaths lying on metalled farm and forest roads. Recent research indicates that outdoor activity in Wales contributes to nearly 10% of the Welsh tourist economy. The group argues that changes to countryside access within Wales could dramatically increase this figure, thereby offering more social, transport, recreational and health benefits for both residents and visitors to the country.

 

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