The Welsh Government’s Infrastructure Investment Strategy, includes a budget for the creation of the National Forest and improving public access to the countryside. The full announcement is here
“Better access where it already exists must be a key principle driving the Welsh Government’s proposals to increase public access to the countryside,” says Charles de Winton from CLA Cymru, the organisation that represents Welsh land managers and rural businesses.
The Welsh Government’s £8.1 billion Infrastructure Investment Strategy includes a budget of £153 million committed to the creation of the National Forest and improving public access to the countryside.
Charles says, “Part of the resource will be used for improving public rights of way to create greater and wider access for the general public. Increased access requires more and better facilities for public parking, toilets and waste disposal. The resource must be invested in more and better signage, online mapping and information throughout Wales, improved stiles, gates and fencing.”
“Public safety is vital. In addition, we must also protect vulnerable livestock, crops and landscapes. It’s vital to remember that the countryside is not a public amenity: it’s a living space and a workplace for the rural community – it’s the active home of the rural economy.
The Welsh Government needs to develop and education strategy to promote awareness, respect and understanding of visitors’ responsibilities, and create a support facility for land managers when things go wrong
“Welsh Government policy includes extending access to take account of new trends and technology: high-spec cross-country cycling, and e-bikes. Clearly, we need bespoke trails to ensure safety for other right-of-way users. Outside resource are needed for our emergency services, some special gates and we must clarify liabilities should incidents occur.”
“Our inland waterways are highly sensitive parts of our landscape, access to which is in burgeoning demand by wild swimmers, canoeists, kayakers and paddle-boarders. We need clarity about where access is permitted and under what conditions. Inland watercourses and their accompanying flora and fauna are a vital part of our rural living environment. In all instances, property rights must be upheld.”
“Investment in improving access to the countryside can be a positive, life-bringing force for our green spaces and the rural community. We must not extend access at a cost to the environment and countryside community.”