Press Release – August 16th. Outdoor Organisations call for Public Inquiry and Review of the Policy of Closure of Footpaths and Open Country. The British Mountaineering Council, supported by eight major outdoor organisations, seriously affected by FMD has written to Margaret Beckett, Secretary of State for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, calling for a full public inquiry into the FMD crisis. Whilst broadly welcoming the Government´s intention to hold three independent inquiries into FMD the BMC is concerned that the inquiries are not ´public´ and do not specifically address the policy of blanket closures of footpaths and open country which was the root cause of the severe financial problems experienced by mountain tourism and the wider tourist industry since late February.In a letter of 14 August from BMC President Derek Walker, the BMC called for the Government to – Hold a full public inquiry into the handling of the FMD crisis including investigation of the scientific and legal justification for the blanket closure of public rights of way and open country. The inquiry should include a detailed assessment of the economic impact of blanket closures.Give a public assurance that a blanket closure policy will not be reintroduced in the event of future outbreaks of FMD or other infectious animal diseases.Make public the findings of any inquiries as soon as they are produced. BMC General Secretary Roger Payne said: ?Throughout the FMD crisis the BMC and other responsible recreational bodies went to considerable lengths to persuade their members to respect the blanket access restrictions imposed. The public were fantastic in respecting the restrictions and now they deserve a full public inquiry into the foot and mouth crisis and an assurance from Government that such a draconian system of closures will not be re-introduced in the future?.
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