The law is changing and wild swimmers are called upon to make this change a change for the better when it comes to river and lake access in Wales.
The following is a summary of a report by Dan Graham:
There have been a series of consultations in the last couple of weeks in respect to a most significant piece of proposed legislation that has huge potential to reform access to countryside in Wales. This is a golden opportunity – there are some excellent politicians occupying powerful positions who really understand the outdoors. If a significant number of outdoor swimmers make their voices are heard we could secure the future of outdoor or wild swimming in Wales.
We are starting with a presumption in favor of broadening access. There is a recognition at many levels that current legislation around access to the countryside (not just water) is complex and unclear, and puts people off benefiting from all of the health & social benefits of outdoor activities.
Firstly, wild swimmers are asked to complete this survey:
The pre-requisite is that you must have completed some sort of outdoor activity in Wales at some point in the last year.
This survey by Visit Wales – will look at the economic importance of outdoor activity tourism in the Wales.
Secondly – although the Green Paper is on the way, we can get in touch right now – we can email the Welsh Minister for Culture and Sport, John Griffiths, directly, and tell him our opinions on the proposals. It DOES NOT MATTER where you live. Welsh residents are weighted more highly – but contributions from elsewhere are welcomed – it is recognised that the largest tourist spend in Wales comes from the English.
The Minister has clearly stated that he wants to “increase access to the outdoors” – so it would be great if as individuals we could explain to him why that is a positive thing for us, and how we benefit from access to the outdoors. Explain the sorts of activities that you enjoy doing. Perhaps mention that the present law is unclear (if you think it is), which means that sometimes you are not sure whether you are “allowed” to swim in some places. Greater clarity in law would give people greater confidence to go and explore the outdoors, knowing that what they are doing is not going to get them into trouble, and through this increasing access in Wales.
Email John Griffiths – the Minister for Culture & Sport directly.
Thirdly – people who live in Wales or run business in Wales are being asked to speak to their Assembly Members (especially Plaid Cymru AMs)
You can find out who they are here.
An individual getting in touch with their AM either in person, by email, by post is weighted VERY highly. All you need to do is raise the issue with your AM, and ask them where they stand. Ask them to contact the Minister.
Finally – when the Green Paper is published (December) – send in your opinions.
The time frames are tight – and we need to move fast to make sure that our voices are heard.
What swimmers do during this time of golden opportunity could secure the future for wild swimmers in Wales.