A view across a landscape with rolling hills, fields, trees and flowers 

Changing the nature of Access in Wales

Ramblers Cymru response to the Welsh Government’s Written Statement on Taking Forward Wales’ Sustainable Management of Natural Resources Consultation – Access Proposals

We welcome the statement by the Deputy Minister for Housing and Local Government, Hannah Blythyn AM (April 4th), which has given an indication of the government’s intentions for improving access to the outdoors in Wales.

We want to help more people enjoy walking in Wales; to connect communities to the paths and green spaces around them; to help people get healthier and happier through walking.  We are pleased to see recognition of the important health and wellbeing opportunities being outdoors can bring.

Over the past 5 years we have seen two detailed consultations from Welsh Government on the future of access in Wales, and in both instances, Ramblers has responded strongly with calls to protect and improve our rights of way network and access land in ways which are sensitive and appropriate.  

It is encouraging to see that the government intends to increase access to the coast and remove parts of the Countryside and Rights of Way Act which are unhelpful – such as the 2026 cut-off date for registering historic rights of way.   We are also pleased to see the intention to create a digital definitive map for Wales.

The statement has given an insight to the general direction of future policy, but it is clear there is a long way to go, and much more debate to be had, before any legislative change is brought about.   There are also clear links with possible changes to agricultural funding support which will need to be carefully considered. 

This is particularly relevant to the intention that all paths are assumed to be multi-user – a policy move which opens footpaths to horse riders and cyclists.   Our view remains that the character and physical features of some paths would make them unsuitable as multi-use spaces; and that codes of responsible behaviour must be clear and protect walkers who, in this context, are the most vulnerable users.

As government and Natural Resources Wales move to the next phase with the establishment of an Access Reform Group, we stand ready to play our part in this important process.  We are already making the case for Ramblers inclusion in the Reform group to make sure walkers views are heard, any that any changes recommended are practical, safe, and deliverable.   

Throughout this next stage of deliberations, we will remain a strong advocate for the Welsh outdoors being designed to offer walkers a positive experience.  

Read the Deputy Minister’s statement.  

For further information on how Ramblers Cymru will be continuing to speak up for walkers as these proposals are taken forward, please email: rebecca.Brough@ramblers.org.uk   

 

"Wales for Walking" display stand at the Senedd

A 10 year vision for Wales

Ramblers Cymru maps out how Wales can be a happier, healthier nation where walking is at the heart of every community.