Following the meeting in Builth Wells on Sunday 15th of September about access to the countryside, last Monday a group met to discuss the next steps and have agreed a way forward which we trust you will be pleased to hear.
Monday’s meeting was attended by Mark Lloyd, Angling Trust, Rachel Evans, Countryside Alliance, Charles de Winton and Ben Underwood of the Country Land and Business Association (CLA), Tony Rees Angling Cymru and George Barron of the Welsh Salmon and Trout Angling Association. The group are in the process of inviting other national organisations to join in a collective campaign for locally-agreed, sustainable access to the countryside, rather than nationally-imposed blanket legislation.
The campaign will be called the Sustainable Access Campaign Cymru (SACC) or Ymgyrch Mynediad Cynaliadwy Cymru (YMCC) and we will be establishing a web site in the next two weeks where you will be able to register your support for a statement and a series of principles regarding access to the countryside. This will cover access to both land and water in order to ensure that we have the broadest base of support for a coalition approach. We believe that this name demonstrates that we are not opposed to increasing access, but we believe that it must not conflict with existing legitimate users and it should not damage wildlife. The web site will also set out clearly the timetable for consultation and when and where pressure should be applied.
We have also formed a legal sub group to look at the potential for a legal challenge to any legislation and other legal matters which may involve seeking advice from one or more barristers. Many angling clubs expressed a wish to donate to a fighting fund to support this campaign, which is likely to be costly. If you wish to support the cause with funds, please send donations made payable to the Angling Trust to: 6 Rainbow Street, Leominster, Herefordshire, HR6 8DQ. Please ensure that your donation is marked clearly as being for the Sustainable Access Campaign and funds will be ringfenced for this purpose only. A record of income and expenditure will be available to all donors on request and will be published with the Angling Trust’s annual accounts next year.
Many people have contacted their AMs and MPs to let them know of their concerns regarding the proposals which are being considered to open up universal access to land and water in Wales and we are very pleased indeed with the response to date. This contact has already had an effect and we need to keep up the pressure. Please take strength from the very successful approach that you and over 2,000 anglers took with regards to the Visit Wales survey, an excellent response.
We will write again when the website goes live and then it would be most helpful if you could spread the word to everyone you know and encourage them to register their support and write to their elected representatives. We can also get Assembly Members to add their names to the website in support in due course.
The team that met on Monday will lead the campaign as a group. Please do keep us all informed as to how the lobbying is progressing and don’t forget to invite AM’s out of the bubble that is Cardiff Bay. There is an opportunity for a petition but not quite at this stage – we can use this later in the year.
The proposed “exhibition” for angling has added dimensions to it now and will encompass through the various national organisations access to land as well. I am very pleased indeed that through the Afan Club, we already have our first sponsor Mr David Rees AM (Labour, Aberavon) who has secured the date for us. Please make a note of the date – Wednesday the 15th of January 2014, The Senedd, Cardiff Bay. Further details and requests for help will be sent out in due course.
Many thanks for your support , for forwarding detailed documents and suggestions to date they are all most helpful.
All best wishes,