Open access plan to allow camping and hang gliding criticised by farmers

Plans to relax restrictions on land use in Wales have been criticised by farmers, who are concerned extending how land can be used will affect the day to day running of farms.

NFU Cymru fears the Welsh Government proposals buried within the consultation entitled Taking Forward Wales’ Sustainable Management of Natural Resources if taken forward will have major repercussions for farmers.

Meirionnydd NFU Cymru County Chairman, Geraint Rowlands, said: “The proposals put forward in this consultation to change access legislation make for alarming reading for farmers in Meirionnydd and indeed many other areas of Wales.

“Proposals include changes to current restrictions on Countryside Rights of Way (CRoW) access land to allow organised games, camping, hang-gliding and para-gliding on all access land. CRoW access land extends to 460,000 hectares in Wales and extending the range of activity has the potential to impact hugely on the day to day running on farming businesses, not least those that have diversified into camping. Meirionnydd is an area that relies heavily on income from tourism and many farmers in particular have diversified into camping businesses, for supplementary income. If the proposals to allow camping on any access land (under the CRoW Act 2000) came into force, members of the public could camp anywhere on those 460,000 hectares…for free.

“Along with the obvious monetary impact and the increased liability on farmers, there is also concern that these additional activities could disrupt wildlife habitats, scare animals, create ruts on land and injuries could occur whilst carrying out these activities in remote areas.

“Whilst we wish to see the public and their pets enjoy their time in this beautiful area of Wales, we do have concerns that allowing access to camping, organised games, hang-gliding and para-gliding could impact on the running of farming businesses.

“Welsh Government is also consulting on proposals to extend CRoW access to include rivers and inland waters and coast and cliff areas as well as allow cycling and horse riding on footpaths.  I believe the Welsh Government has failed to properly think about the consequences that such proposals could have on the industry and I urge you all to contact your AMs and respond to this consultation to make your views known.”

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