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Outdoor Activities Awareness Forum (Saesneg yn unig)

Dolenni perthnasol

Os hoffech gael unrhyw ddogfennau sydd ar y dudalen hon mewn fformat gwahanol, rhowch wybod inni.
Jenny Randerson, Y Gweinidog dros Ddiwylliant, Chwaraeon a'r Gymraeg
Alan Pugh AM opened a debate in February last year entitled “ Death in the Mountains” which concentrated on improving public information on the hazards associated with activities on mountains. Since that debate the issue of public awareness of the dangers involved when taking part in outdoor activities has generated a lot of publicity and interest.  

Following that debate I convened a meeting involving interested parties in Wales to discuss the possibility of establishing a forum to ensure the public are made more aware of the dangers involved in outdoor activities and of the need to be fully prepared in order to avoid potential accidents.  In November last year, I made a further plenary statement following the trial and acquittal of a scout leader, who was in charge of a group of scouts, one of whom was Jonathan Atwell who fell and tragically lost his life in October 1999.

Following the trial there were press reports involving organisations associated with outdoor pursuit activities which questioned whether changes needed to take place to regulations. Some issues have been addressed. The Adventure Activities Licensing scheme was introduced in 1993 by the Government to regulate private companies operating adventure activities for young people, however it does not cover all activities offered by the voluntary sector.  

Following consultation with interested parties in Wales who are involved in outdoor activities I am pleased to say that on 18 March I was able to launch the Outdoor Activities Awareness Forum at the Storey Arms in Brecon.  The Forum will consider how best to raise public awareness of:

the potential risks involved in outdoor activities;

the need to be well prepared;

the importance of considering taking appropriate safety measures ahead of participating in outdoor activities.

The Forum is made up of representatives from several different bodies in Wales.  

These include the Welsh Mountain Leader Training Board, Welsh Canoe Association, Meteorological Office, National Parks, Mountain Rescue Team, Antur Cymru, Outdoor Pursuits Group, Countryside Council, National Trust, Wales Tourist Board, Sports Council for Wales, a representative linking in the voluntary sector and the National Assembly for Wales.  Alun Pugh AM has also been invited as an observer.   As well as opening the Death on the Mountains debate last year, Alun has a very keen interest in walking and mountaineering.  I think this membership brings with it a good blend of experience and expertise, which will be a key element, given the task ahead.

I am also pleased that Iain Peter, Chief Executive of the Mountain Training Trust will chair the Forum.  Iain is well respected in the outdoor activity industry and has gained a vast amount of experience in climbing and mountaineering in both Britain and Europe. I am also grateful to John Cousins from the UK Mountain Training Board who has agreed to undertake the secretariat role.

I want to make it abundantly clear that I see the participation in outdoor activities as being very important.  It can provide very worthwhile and rewarding experiences for all ages, both men and women and we must ensure that society recognises that.  Moreover, it is an area, which encompasses many sports and can help us achieve our target of increasing the number of people taking part in sport in Wales.  But at the same time, we must ensure that those who take part in outdoor activities fully consider safety issues and that they regard safety as being of paramount importance.  

It is widely accepted that the element of danger and risk, which is inherent in many adventure sports, is a significant attraction for many participants who engage in outdoor adventure activities. We will of course never stop accidents happening, but this Forum aims to take positive action by raising awareness to reduce the number of accidents that occur each year.  There are already precedents to show that this approach works.
For example, evidence gathered from studies undertaken on mountain safety in Scotland reveal that there has been a reduction in the amount of accidents because of the dissemination of safety information.   The improved provision of accurate weather forecasts is one element of information under consideration by the Forum.

The first meeting of the Forum was a very constructive one, and engendered positive discussions and ideas on how best to approach the issues. I was very impressed even at this early stage with the commitment shown by all members. I have asked the Chairman of the Forum to report to me at regular intervals and to provide me with a preliminary report with recommendations by the end of May this year.