Trails for Wales update
Sophie Gordon, Cycling UK's campaigns office explains...
Natural Resources Wales has just published its report outlining options for improving access in Wales, which the Welsh Government committed to do in 2019 following Cycling UK and OpenMTB’s long-running Trails for Wales campaign.
At the time, Hannah Blythyn (then deputy minister for housing & local government) stated: “I will progress significant changes to access rights and facilitate an assumption of non-motorised multi-use on access land and the public rights of way network. This will provide users such as cyclists and horse riders with many more opportunities to access the outdoors near to where they live.”
Unfortunately, this bold vision risks being watered down. Instead of making clear recommendations on the best way to progress with access reform, the report from Natural Resources Wales merely outlines the options and kicks the decision back to government.
For those who have spent two years taking part in expert advisory groups with the goal of shaping these recommendations, this is frustrating.
Cycling UK’s head of campaigns and advocacy, Duncan Dollimore was part of the group looking at how to implement changes to rights of way to make more of them multi-use. He commented:
“In April 2019, the Welsh Government promised significant changes to public access rights. They’d consulted twice and committed to legislate to allow cyclists and horse riders increased access to both the rights of way network and to open access land.
“The discussions over the last two years were supposed to inform how and when, not whether the changes would be implemented, so it’s hugely disappointing that the final advice report focusses on options rather than recommendations for implementation.
“Given the government’s unequivocal commitment to access reform, it’s now imperative that clear timescales are set out to move this forward, confirming when final decisions will be made and how quickly they can be delivered. The Welsh public were promised bold access reforms. They now need to hear a date."
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