FUW Concerned at Lack of Landowner Representation in Countryside Access Talks
Earlier this year, the Deputy Minister for Housing and Local Government, Ms Hannah Blythyn AM, released a statement outlining the next steps on countryside access following the proposals contained in the Sustainable Management of Natural Resources consultation.
Delivery of the initial proposals accepted in the consultation will be delivered by Natural Resources Wales (NRW) and other stakeholders.
Other reforms within the consultation require more work to consider the details and potential consequences of introduction. This work will be delivered by a new group called the Access Reform Advisory Group (ARAG) and the group will be tasked with looking at the legal and financial consequences of making the access changes proposed. The ARAG comprises a Steering Group and a number of Expert Working Groups. The Steering Group's composition will be made up of access specialists from NRW, the Welsh Government, National Parks Authority and a Welsh Government Local Government Association rights of way specialist.
Around 80 percent of the land in Wales is privately owned and the Farmers’ Union of Wales is extremely concerned that private landowners have not been represented on the ARAG Steering Group. Private landowners have a wealth of experience relevant to discussions on the future of access and many have directly experienced many of the key issues such as fly tipping, fly grazing and livestock worrying across Wales’ public rights of way network. Inclusion of such representation is essential in ensuring that future policies recognise the complexity of access issues and do not detrimentally impact upon the ability of farm businesses to operate.