on Proposed Development of a National Countryside Recreation Strategy
on the Proposed Working Definition of Countryside Recreation:
We note the
proposed interim definition of Countryside Recreation and would recommend that
the concept of ‘passive countryside recreation’ be included.
interim definition appears to place the focus on active recreation in the
countryside that involves physical exertion, whilst for many people recreation
in the countryside will involve quite a passive but very important opportunity
to appreciate and relate to the extent, diversity and beauty of the natural
LAI Vision of Countryside Recreation over the Next 10 Year Period:
important related policy would be a National Land-use Policy. In the hierarchy
of governance, management and planning, a strategy should follow a policy and
lead on the implementation measures and instruments.
Recreation Strategy would be greatly strengthened and informed if it was
considered within such a structured framework.
We would wish
to see countryside recreation provided for within the context of an
all-embracing national recreation strategy covering both the urban and rural
landscape. This approach has the
advantage of defusing some of the tensions that arise when countryside
recreation is addressed in isolation of a national strategy.
The very term
‘countryside recreation’ will understandably evoke a negative knee-jerk
reaction from some sections of the rural population.
There is in
reality a two-way flow from the countryside to settlements and vica-versa with
regard to recreational needs.
functioning of the state at an economic and social level depends on an extensive
range of ‘rights of way’ from motorways down to the most insignificant
route has its own characteristics and complexities. Some of these have already
been given legal status. Such legal status as exists has been built up over time
in response to diverse needs, particularly within the urban landscape, but there
has been a regrettable tardiness in addressing the legal framework for access
within the rural landscape and parts of the urban landscape. The emphasis is
currently on access routes for vehicular traffic, a balanced emphasis is now
required on access routes for all other modes of transport including the foot
county-by-county register of rights of way classified into different categories
must be prepared as a matter of absolute urgency and incorporated into the
Development Plan process.
of a Rights of Way Commission or perhaps a Rights of Way Ombudsman should be
very seriously considered.
We would note
that if the cost of fuel continues to rise rapidly it will progressively change
the pattern of countryside recreational travel. This may well see a gradual
shift from private to public transport over time. Such a development would have
medium to long term implications for a countryside recreational strategy.
complex social, economic and health issues surrounding countryside recreation
all of which are linked to the common good and it is important that the widest
possible range of both passive and active recreation be incorporated within the
however a need over and above issues of property rights to recognise that the
countryside is a vulnerable resource and there are already many case histories
of situations where excessive use of the countryside recreation has resulted in
the destruction of the very recreational resource targeted.
It is vital to
anticipate such ‘pressure points’ and to take early action. Irish examples
would be the wear and tear on pathways in
such include methodologies for identifying the ‘carrying capacity’ of the
countryside and appropriate control or intervention measures.
strategy could be measured by developing a standard template common to all the
players and stakeholders in the countryside, focussing on key indicators.
‘unorganised’ recreational users of the countryside would have to be
surveyed to obtain measurement data.
It is logical
that the management of the countryside recreation should in so far is as
possible be linked to the existing administrative infrastructure namely the
Local Authorities, Regional Authorities, and the National Government and every
effort should be made to avoid a disjointed and uncoordinated infrastructure.
Anticipated by Landscape
greater the reduction in the level of responsible behaviour required of the
individual citizen, the more damage that is caused to the very fabric of society
let alone the issue of countryside recreation.
measures relating to countryside recreation should be underpinned by a clear
understanding that individuals must make an assessment of risk in all of their
is a need to clearly categorise the extent of the risk that applies to the
landowner and the extent that applies to the person engaging in recreation on
the lands in question.
more organised countryside recreation becomes the greater the risk of excluding
a large section of the population who do not wish to engage in structured
recreation, but who would also benefit greatly from countryside recreation.
system might be set up where those engaging in recreation in the countryside
would register with a central agency, pay a fee, be provided with targeted
insurance, receive a ‘membership number’ and ‘car disc’ and would sign
in by phone or text when entering or leaving remote areas of countryside. This
would be linked with rescue providers and possible funding to landowners. Signs
at entry points could provide telephone numbers, and casual users of the
countryside could pay by credit card.
a democratic constitutional society such as
is appreciated that this raises complex issues, but there is little point in
continuously running away from them just because they are complex.
avenue worth examining is the provision of parking facilities. There is an
acceptance in the urban landscape that parking charges will be levied. This also
occurs in the countryside to a limited degree.
owners should be permitted to provide secure parking facilities and to charge
for them. This would generate an income, provide a needed facility and reduce
accident risks on often narrow roads.
courses should be developed on a module bases for all organisations involved and
indeed for the ordinary citizen and participation in such courses should be made
as accessible as possible throughout the country.
in such courses could be compulsory for certain recreational activities.
Role of Landscape
the past 10 years Landscape Alliance
provision of a platform by Landscape Alliance
to National Landscape For a are encouraged to bring their own agenda but to take
home part at least of someone else’s agenda.
concept of a countryside recreation strategy appears to be emerging
you are probably aware a Countryside Recreation Strategy for
are a vast range of organisations and bodies involved in the issue of
all of these should at least have membership of Comhairle na Tuaithe and be on
the information network.
would be desirable that each year a conference would take place where all of the
members would be invited to send delegates.
composition of a council for the Comhairle na Tuaithe would need to be
sufficiently small to be effective and yet sufficiently representive to ensure
that all parties are kept on side.
would suggest that the membership be broken down into a number of pillars and
that the council would then have equal representation from each of the pillars,
this would assist towards achieving a good balance, though sustaining balance in
such a body requires committed attention due to the variation in resources,
particularly in voluntary bodies.
submission was prepared for Landscape Alliance
353 21 4871460
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