The representative body for hillwalkers and climbers has objected after the Brecon Beacons national park decided to put the region’s most popular areas off-limits to the public.
Large areas of access land and rights of way have been shut in the Central Beacons, including Pen y Fan, the highest mountain in southern Britain, and its neighbouring peaks. Car parks next to the areas have also been closed.
The measures, which were undertaken using Welsh government Covid legislation, apply to local residents as well as visitors.
The national park said they took the measures because of people “continuing to park at popular national park beauty spots, against Welsh government regulations and putting themselves and the park’s fragile rural communities at risk.”
The British Mountaineering Council (BMC) has criticised the closures.
In an open letter to the Brecon Beacons national park authority’s chief executive, Mr Atkins, representatives from BMC Cymru said: “Given the overwhelming evidence that Covid is not transmitted outdoors, the enormous benefits of outdoor exercise, and the desirability of allowing people to spread out as much as possible while exercising, we do not believe these closures of open spaces are either proportionate or effective in reducing transmission.
“The regulations state that people should not drive for exercise, and given this, we understand why the authorities may wish to close car parks and laybys… However, we do not see that closing access land is necessary in addition to car park closures.”
BMC Cymru also criticised the way the restrictions were imposed, without consultation with representative bodies, and submitted a Freedom of Information request asking the park authority to provide more evidence of its case for the closures.
Exercise at home
Julian Atkins, Chief Executive of Brecon Beacons National Park Authority stated “In agreement with, Welsh Government, Dyfed Powys Police, National Trust, South Wales Trunk Road Agency, Natural Resources Wales and Powys County Council, we have closed two areas of land either side of the A470, through the Central Beacons. People should not be using their cars to enjoy a walk in the countryside, Welsh Government guidance states that exercise should start and finish at home.
“We would like to thank both residents and visitors for their patience, support and for continuing to respect the restrictions in Wales. The protected landscape will be well worth the wait when it’s finally safe to return – safe for local communities, visitors and staff.”
Find out more about which areas are closed here.
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