National Trust trial outdoor pursuits licensing scheme.

The Peak Adventure Sports Alliance (PASA) has alerted the National Trust (NT) to its reservations about the new licensing scheme the NT is proposing to trial at Longshaw and other sites.

It is difficult to see anything of merit in this latest scheme.

1. One of the NT’s stated intentions is to “Ensure that provision is run at a high standard.” Surely this is the job of the national representative/governing bodies, not the NT?

2. This scheme sets a dreadful precedent. It could conceivably encourage other landowners to charge for access.

3. Given the National Trust’s strenuous and laudable efforts over the last few years to encourage outdoor activity, particularly in the young, this sends the wrong message. Much of the outdoor activity on NT land is provided by hard-pressed Outdoor Centres providing services to cash-strapped local authorities. Charging them is difficult to justify in these austere times. The message should be that the NT welcomes those who aim to indulge in outdoor pursuits, not that you’re going to place impediments in the way.

4. Since much of the activity on your land is outdoor pursuit centres introducing underprivileged kids to the wonders of the great outdoors, doesn’t your policy risk hitting those who can least afford to pay?

5. This policy goes against the founding principles of the NT – Octavia Hill must be spinning in her grave!

6. Doesn’t this policy constitute an administrative nightmare to police and, in many cases, won’t it be all but unenforceable?

PASA would like to suggest an alternative way of looking at this particular problem? Stanage/North Lees, under the management of the PDNPA but with the guidance of the Stanage Forum, has adopted a much more consensual approach to managing its many thousands of visitors. In order to ameliorate the inevitable effects of those huge numbers, they have woven user groups into the very fabric of the estate by bringing them together in the Stanage Forum but also by engaging with them on an almost weekly basis. User groups contribute volunteer effort, give something back and learn that different users aren’t so different after all.

The BMC, Ride Sheffield and others are encouraged to take their responsibilities seriously not by imposing a charge but by including them in all decisions made. This has led to the increasingly successful Stanage Sticker scheme whereby users voluntarily contribute to the upkeep of the estate. Surely this is preferable to taking money from outdoor pursuits providers who are barely keeping their heads above water? It also tends to result in more contributions from those who can afford it.

PASA is fully aware that these are tough times making for tough decisions. However, taking the most obvious path, i.e. charging outdoor pursuits providers, strikes us as ill thought out and self-defeating.

The BMC’s response and further details about the licensing scheme can be found HERE