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National Trust Outdoor Activity Restrictions 21/02/2014

A National Trust document on the management of commercial recreational activities at the Trust owned Abercastle Harbour in Pembrokeshire, proposes "coasteering operators must obtain a licence, and kayaking operators must obtain agreement to operate at Abercastle from the National Trust."

The 'usage policy' that all outdoor activity providers are being asked to follow between Easter and the end of September, says that 70% of the time usage is to be by one group and that the primary user is Preseli Venture, who other providers are advised to check with first before visiting.

Preseli Venture work in partnership with the National Trust running their kayaking and coasteering wildlife tours and state on their website: "Preseli Venture works together in partnership and is licensed by the National Trust as the principal operator using their wild and pristine coastal properties that are located close by for coasteering and sea kayaking activities."

This isn't the first occasion that the National Trust have considered implementing what is as good as a single provider licence. In November 2011, Snowdonia-Active first reported on the National Trust's proposals for licensing under their Ambassador Business Scheme. The scheme recommended 'paid for' licenses and entering into exclusivity agreements with chosen providers.

At the time these 'access restrictions' set alarm bells ringing in the outdoor sector and Denise Marriott, The Head of Newgale YMCA Outdoor Education Centre, wrote to the Trust expressing her concerns. Like many in the sector, she saw the scheme as contradictory to the Trust's own 'Vision for Learning' and a serious threat to educating future generations.

Ultimately, after discussions with the Trust they said this is something they would not do in Wales. The British Mountaineering Council, concerned about the National Trust making 'outdoor properties pay', received assurances in 2012 that there were "no plans whatsoever to start licensing or charging for traditional outdoor activities on its open space lands in Wales."

Responding to the latest prospect of licensing, Denise Marriott said: "So, after all we went through here we go again! I am not interested in making anyone out to be the bad guy here but in protecting the interests of outdoor providers across the county andů preventing what I consider to be a damaging precedent."

Topic: National Trust Activity Licensing.

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