The British Mountaineering Council (BMC) has launched a countryside Access Charter, calling on government to secure and enhance public access to England’s countryside for walkers and climbers. BMC Access & Conservation Officer, Dr Catherine Flitcroft says, “Public recreation and access need to be at the heart of all decision making concerning our countryside. These are fundamental to people’s enjoyment and understanding of our outdoors, helping to feed the desire to cherish the natural environment – a key political theme at the moment. It is vital we lay down fundamental principles to protect public access for quiet recreation and enjoyment of the countryside. These principles must help inform sensible policy decisions including those around the Public Bodies Bill."
The Charter sets out the BMC’s views to access to the countryside of England, particularly to cliffs, crags and mountainous areas. It calls on political parties to develop an integrated package of measures, based on core principals, which will further secure and enhance sustainable public access to the countryside.
The BMC calls on government to implement the following ten actions, more details of which are given in the Charter:
1. Ensure no loss of public access or the conservation value of public land through sale or transfer
2. Dedicate public land to create permanent access rights
3. Support existing bodies in the delivery of public access and recreational opportunities
4. Recognise the importance and value of outdoor recreation in any new landscape designations
5. Ensure statutory access requirements are not jeopardised by public expenditure cuts
6. Ensure access and outdoor recreation remain a priority for Local Authorities
7. Change the wording of the CROW ACT 2000 to match the MCAA 2009
8. Understand personal risk in outdoor recreation and occupiers liability
9. Recognise the potential after-use of quarries
10. Support greater use of agricultural subsidies to secure access opportunities
The BMC works in partnership with landowners and conservation bodies to ensure successful access management, where all parties recognise and respect the legitimate interests of others and where recreation and conservation benefit mutually.
The full BMC Access Charter is available at http://www.thebmc.co.uk/accesscharter