Cycling UK experts called on to assist with Welsh access

Changes to improve Wales’ access legislation won’t happen overnight, but with the right people involved the time taken will be worthwhile.

Earlier this week the Welsh Government announced the make-up of the three expert groups which will help shape the way people access the Welsh countryside.

The make-up of the groups comprises of land managers, recreational interest and the public sector, and will work on the following three areas: flexibility on public paths; changes to open access / CROW land; and Communicating Access Rights. An initial meeting is scheduled for the first week of February.

This latest development results from four years of work by the Welsh Government as it consulted on how to make its countryside more open for everyone.

During this period, Cycling UK, together with off-road advocacy group OpenMTB, ran their Trails for Wales campaign.  

The headline call of the campaign was an update to access rights to give cyclists and horse riders many more opportunities to enjoy the countryside, as currently 78% of Welsh rights of way are forbidden to them.

Rights of way status, such as whether it is a footpath or bridleway, was decided by historic decisions made decades ago, rather than current suitability of use.

Cycling UK along with OpenMTB, the British Horse Society and other outdoor focussed organisations argued the case to the Welsh Government for an update, where suitability of use would be the deciding factor, rather than a historic strike of the pen.

Through Trails for Wales, more than 12,000 people backed Cycling UK’s call for increased access to the countryside, and the Welsh Government listened - in April 2019 proposals were announced which will open up many more opportunities for exploring the outdoors.

The Welsh Government's proposals...could be the most significant changes to rights of way legislation since Scotland’s Land Reform Act.

Duncan Dollimore, Cycling UK head of campaigns 

At the time of the announcement, Duncan Dollimore, Cycling UK head of campaigns said: “These proposals, when implemented, could be the most significant changes to rights of way legislation since Scotland’s Land Reform Act in 2003.

“It’s a great day for Wales and lovers of the outdoors that the Government has listened.”

As a result of Cycling UK and OpenMTB’s campaigning, Duncan Dollimore (head of campaigns, Cycling UK), Kieran Foster (off-road policy advisor, Cycling UK) and Tom Hutton (OpenMTB) have been chosen to represent off-road cycling interests as the legislation is developed.

To keep informed of further off-road developments in Wales and across the UK, sign up for Cycling UK’s quarterly off-road updates.