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Section highlightHouses into homes This report details findings to emerge from the evaluation during the first six months of delivery (April to September 2012).
Written Statement - Update on tobacco policy »Standardised packaging of tobacco products and Sub Committees on The Smoke-free Premises etc. (Wales) (Amendment) Regulations 2012.Learn more »
National Library base for US Radio Travel programme
On Saturday 25 May, The National Library of Wales, Aberystwyth will be host to US radio star, Peter Greenberg.
- Industry and government plan for a healthy future for farming in Wales
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- National Library base for US Radio Travel programme
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Section highlightAccess to information
The Welsh Government has followed the principles of openness in government for many years. Find out how you can make a freedom of information request or see requests that have already been made.
Sky lanterns: environmental and risk assessment »To establish an evidence base to help any future policy decisions on sky lanterns and helium balloons.Learn more »
- Future management of private water supply pipes
- Amendments to the Motor Vehicle (Competitions and Trials) Regulations 1969 and the Motor Vehicles (Off Road Events) Regulations 1995
- Higher Education (Wales) Bill: Technical consultation
- The future of agricultural statistical data collection methods in Wales
- Consultation - Local Authorities (Standing Orders) (Wales) Regulations 2006 (Amendment) Regulations 2013
- Draft action plan for pollinators
Featured consultation »Implementing the Domestic Fire Safety (Wales) Measure 2011
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Section highlightFurther and Higher Education (Governance and Information) (Wales) Bill 2013
Removes a number of technical restrictions and controls on colleges without changing the principal powers of colleges to provide further, higher and secondary education.
Legislative programme 2012 - 2013 »
Addressing the Assembly in the Senedd today, the First Minister, Carwyn Jones, detailed the eight bills in the Welsh Government’s 5-year Legislative Programme that will be brought forward during the second year of the Welsh Assembly.Learn more »
Section highlightCommunity Infrastructure Levy
Local authorities can charge a Community Infrastructure Levy on new developments to support the infrastructure needed.
2nd Supplementary Budget 2012-13 »
Proposes a number of changes to the 1st Supplementary Budget for 2012-13, which was published on 26 June 2012.Learn more »
Implementation of New Access Provisions under the Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000
1. The Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000 (CROW Act) provides for new public access on foot to open country and registered common land in England and Wales. This will apply to over 360,000 hectares of land in Wales, plus another 100,000 hectares of Forestry Commission land. This represents just over 20% of the land area of Wales. While much of this will be within the National Parks – where the public are used to enjoying access – a substantial proportion is spread across Wales giving new opportunities for people to enjoy the countryside. All 22 unitary authorities will have some CROW Act ‘access land’ in their areas. Subject to Assembly approval of the Commencement Order (due to be debated in plenary on 1st March), the new right of access will come into force across the whole of Wales on 28th May 2005. (Whitsun Bank Holiday). This note summarises action to date and planned activity.
2. Research commissioned by the Wales Tourist Board indicates that walking tourism already generates some £550 million per annum for the Welsh economy. Local businesses, communities and farmers all stand to benefit if we can properly harness the economic potential of the increased opportunities coming available very soon under the CROW Act for access to the superb Welsh countryside. The social and health benefits of recreation in the countryside are also just as important. Regular physical activity like walking can contribute to better public health – by reducing the risk of conditions like obesity and some cancers and enhancing mental health. This is being actively acknowledged by GPs through initiatives like Exercise Referral and Green Gym. The recent Health Status Wales report has also highlighted that a significant proportion of adults and children in Wales do not achieve the recommended activity levels. More recreation in the local countryside could help here. Countryside access also makes an important contribution to education, with schools, colleges and the wider public learning about environmental issues in the countryside.
3. The Welsh Assembly Government is taking steps to ensure that access to the countryside – and the benefits of this – is integrated appropriately into its strategies and programmes. For example, our ‘Climbing Higher’ strategy seeks to maximise the contribution that sport, physical activity and recreation can make to creating an active, healthy and inclusive Wales – and of course the countryside has an important role to play in this. Our Walking and Cycling strategy also emphasises how these forms of travel help our environment, promote healthier lifestyles and cut dependence on the car. And through Health Challenge Wales we have set out the major challenges facing the nation, obesity in schoolchildren being one of the more worrying recent issues to come to the fore.
4. The Assembly is responsible for the regulations underpinning the access provisions of the CROW Act – and over the last three years the main regulatory framework has been successfully put in place.
Mapping of access land
5. During the past 3 – 4 years CCW has undertaken the necessary work to map the extent of open country and registered common land in Wales. To assist the public visiting the countryside, CCW is currently working with the Ordnance Survey to ensure that their published maps show the new ‘access land’ in time for May 2005. CCW are also developing a comprehensive website to provide public information on the new access areas, as well as other countryside opportunities across Wales. A map showing all the new access land is attached at Annex 1 for information.
Safeguards for farmers
6. The CROW Act contains important provisions to help ensure that improved access by the public does not disrupt day to day farming work. Farmers can impose temporary restrictions to close access land for land management reasons. There are also provisions for landowners to restrict access by the public with dogs – for example dogs should always be kept on a short lead when near livestock. In addition, landowners and agricultural tenants may apply to CCW or the relevant National Park for an order preventing or restricting access to their land for land management reasons, to prevent danger to the public, or to prevent a risk of fire in extreme weather conditions. CCW has recently issued guidance for land managers on managing access, including the use of the access restrictions.
Rights and Responsibilities
7. It is important to appreciate, however, that the new access provisions also bring with them responsibilities for the public in terms of respecting property and livestock. To help ensure this is widely known, last year I launched the updated Countryside Code – with the key message of ‘Respect – Protect – Enjoy’. The CCW’s Countryside Code campaign, using the Aardman branding images, is helping to ensure that a wide and diverse public audience is aware of its responsibilities when visiting the countryside. Also during the summer school term CCW will be issuing a Countryside Code Education Pack supporting existing work to raise awareness among children of the countryside around them.
Voluntary dedication of land
8. The Act also gives landowners and long leaseholders the option to dedicate their land permanently for public access. The Forestry Commission, with the active encouragement of the Welsh Assembly Government, is in the process of dedicating 100,000 hectares of their woodland in Wales for open access. Land that is dedicated for public access will be subject to the same safeguards under the Act as open country and registered common land. I am keen for other landowners including local authorities and other public bodies in Wales to consider whether dedication of any of their landholdings may be appropriate - and I have written to key interests encouraging them to consider this option.
Countryside Opportunities Steering Group
9. To help ensure that we maximise the potential benefits of improved countryside access under the Act, in 2003 the Assembly Government set up the Countryside Opportunities Steering Group on a task and finish basis. The Group comprises representatives from key organisations such as CCW, WTB, WDA as well as farming/forestry and community/user interests. I wish to thank members for their commitment to the Group’s work, which has assisted in the necessary forward planning and co-ordination process.
Local access forums
10. 29 local access forums have been established under the Act across Wales and they have been making good progress on their key work of advising on local improvements to public access to the countryside. As well as getting involved in useful pilot projects with CCW, some access forums have been undertaking field visits as part of planning for additional visitor information points and considering local access provision for the less able. I wish them well in their future work.
11. The Assembly has allocated additional funds to the unitary authorities, National Park Authorities, CCW and the Forestry Commission Wales, reflecting their extra responsibilities under the CROW Act. At my request, CCW also introduced a new grant scheme in 2004/5 to fund local access infrastructure improvements. There have also been good examples of local partnerships securing funding under Objective 1, Adfywio and other funding programmes to support community-based initiatives on countryside access. The development of the Anglesey Coastal Path and the Bargoed Woodland project are two such examples and there are many more. The Big Lottery Fund’s recently launched “Mentro Allan” programme will add to the range of potential funding sources, with its specific aim of encouraging ‘hard to reach’ groups to make more use of the Welsh countryside.
12. As indicated, the new open access provisions offer significant opportunities for local communities, businesses and farmers as well as for visitors to Wales. I am very keen to grasp these opportunities for the benefit of Wales and all who live, work and visit here. The Assembly Government is unable to do this on its own however – partnership work is required, building on the very good work being done now at both the national and local level. I am aware that a number of local authorities, such as Denbighshire, Bridgend and Caerphilly, are working up local implementation plans for their areas - incorporating publicity, linear access improvements, information points and the integration of CROW ‘access land’ with other countryside opportunities in the area. It is important that these examples of good practise are spread across Wales. Doing so successfully should make a very practical contribution to the Assembly’s sustainable development, community regeneration and social inclusion objectives.