Written by Editorial Intern Leah Alger
As the general elections draw closer, the British Mountaineering Council (BMC) and the Mountaineering Council of Scotland (MCofS), will be campaigning for greater protection for out natural landscapes and for greater recognition of the health and economic benefits on the 7th May, 2015.
The two council’s together cover England, Wales and Scotland and represent over 90,000 members. They will be challenging politicians to recognise the huge value of outdoor recreation in their manifestos and policies, while also understanding the need to protect the special qualities of the outdoors, for the benefit of all.
The BMC wishes to see tangible measures for the improvement of access and the conservation of our countryside, enshrined in a long-term strategy for outdoor recreation. In the English countryside alone, walkers spend over £6 billion a year and support 245,000 full time jobs. Better access to green space could save the NHS of both England and Wales billions, while a growing body of evidence supports the view that outdoor recreation is integral to the wellbeing of society.
Dr Cath Flitcroft, BMC Access & Conservation Officer, said: “We want political parties to recognise the huge value of outdoor recreation. For instance, we want to see a long-term strategy for outdoor recreation to tackle the epidemic of inactivity. We’re calling for politicians to be genuine advocates for the outdoors, protecting our countryside and green spaces from inappropriate developments. We want to know how many of them are up for the challenge.”
MCofS argues that Scotland’s mountains and remaining wild lands should be treated as an irreplaceable natural, cultural and economic asset – respected and safeguarded for the benefit of all. MCofS are also launching a petition, arguing for Scotland’s wild land areas are to be fully protected from large scale development, and to change Scottish planning policy to clarify that applications for industrial scale developments in mapped areas of wild land will be unacceptable.
David Gibson, MCofS Chief Officer, said: “’Respecting Scotland’s Mountains’ emphasises the importance of stronger protection for our mountains and wild land in environmental and economic terms, and for the benefit of public health and wellbeing.”
Access to the countryside is getting harder due to the impact of cuts, and the countryside itself is at increasing risk of being harmed by development.