"As announced today the Government has created a task force that is being Chaired by the Minister for the Environment Michael Meacher MP. During the lobbying for the Countryside and Rights of Way Act the BMC had very positive responses from the Minister and his senior staff. Hence, we are confident the task force will give proper consideration to issues that we raise. Today in London BMC representatives put forward views at meetings with the Countryside Agency and with the Parliamentary Under Secretary for Wales. These views were then relayed directly to the first meeting of the new task force. Key points that BMC has been pressing for today include: Recognition of the cost of FMD access restrictions on rural tourism and outdoor industries, and the consideration of compensation measures.The lifting of blanket access closures in England and Wales to be replaced with area and site evaluations, and the urgent opening of areas that are clear of the disease or where there is no livestock.So far, the response from climbers and walkers to the access restrictions has been excellent, and this has been noted by officials, statutory bodies with responsibility for access and countryside issues, farming groups, and other environment bodies. The BMC believes that the Government´s new FMD task force will soon be making announcements concerning areas where access restrictions will start to be relaxed. In the meantime, the BMC thanks all climbers, hill walkers and mountaineers for their continuing support for all foot and mouth access restrictions and land closure notices, and urges everyone to keep up to date with areas that are currently open for climbing and hill walking via the BMC website. www.thebmc.co.uk/outdoor/access/fmd.asp." Roger Paine, General Secretary British Mountaineering Council
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