Climbers to Rescue British Countryside?

One of the few good things to come out of the foot and mouth restrictions in place in Britain has been the recognition of the positive economic impact climbers and walkers have on the fragile rural economy. It is in this atmosphere that the BMC has announced the creation of two new bodies to maximise the lobbying power of the outdoor tourism industry that climbers and walkers make up.Firstly, the BMC has announced the creation of the ´Walkers and Climbers Rural Development Panel´, in recognition of the positive economic effect that climbers and walkers have on the countryside. ´The new panel will be consulting with rural development experts and initiating a long term campaign to support the fragile rural economy and emphasise and increase the positive effect that walkers and climbers can have as they undertake their activity´. Or so goes the press release. The end-game of this apparently laudable move is no-doubt to work with the rural community to greater service the climbing and walking market, and thus gain a stronger position to argue for greater access rights. As Ken Taylor, the Chair of the new Rural Development Panel said “the foot and mouth crisis has demonstrated the importance of climbers and walkers to rural businesses; whilst at the same time reminding us all of the fragility of the rural economy and vital role of tourism within it. If the outdoor community can do even more to bolster local businesses and services, this is something that can only be of benefit to us all”.The other new creation is the new Access and Conservation Trust. The ACT will continue the task of getting, and maintaining access to climbing areas, and co-ordinating the flow of access information. No doubt the ACT will seek to act on the new-found goodwill borne of the Foot & Mouth restrictions, and the work of the Rural Development Panel. The ACT replaces the BMC Access Fund, and it is hoped that this new trust will be awarded charitable status. ACT will be supported by the BMC, and charitable donations from the outdoor community.