The MCofS is worried hillwalking and other mountain activities could be the subject of regulation

The MCofS is worried hillwalking and other mountain activities could be the subject of regulation

The body representing climbers and hillwalkers north of the border is urging clubs and individuals to make their view known on plans to regulate adventurous activities.

The Mountaineering Council of Scotland expressed its concern that statutory regulation of climbing and hillwalking could be extended to voluntary groups such as mountaineering clubs.

It also revealed it believes the Scottish Government will keep the Adventure Activities Licensing Authority in place this summer as an interim measure when the Westminster Parliament abolishes the body in England.

This would lead, temporarily at least, to a confused situation where activity providers in England were bound only by a voluntary code of conduct but those north of the border providing trekking, climbing, caving and watersports would still be bound by statutory regulations.

The MCofS, which has more than 10,000 members, believes a voluntary scheme should be introduced in Scotland too. It also criticised the Scottish Government for including volunteer-led bodies such as mountaineering clubs in the consultation which closes at the end of this month.

The AALA scheme does not currently cover volunteer bodies or schools.

The Perth-based mountaineering council’s submission said: “The MCofS considers that the adoption of a different option to England would present significant difficulties for volunteer-led mountaineering clubs based in Scotland, because the lack of licensing and regulation in England may drive existing members of Scottish mountaineering clubs to join English clubs which will face no requirement for licensing or regulation.”

It said there is no evidence from its experience or Mountain Rescue Committee of Scotland statistics that there is a need for a mechanism for regulation for recreational mountaineering activities. “Indeed, mountaineering incident statistics show that the number of incidents are decreasing at the same time that there is an increase in participation levels,” it added.

The MCofS said: “The introduction of a mechanism for regulating adventure activities in the context of volunteer-led activities organised by the MCofS in its role as governing body, and by our volunteer-led member clubs, would be a barrier to increasing both volunteer support for, and participation in activities.”

It said the industry already has national governing body qualifications such as Mountain Leader Award, Single Pitch Award and Mountain Instructor Certificate that are a mark of competence. “Previously, the introduction of AALA imposed a secondary level of assessment which was effectively unnecessary, as it did not add any additional safeguards over the Mountain Leader Training awards,” the MCofS added.

But it was the inclusion of voluntary-led activities that prompted the MCofS to urge its affiliated clubs and members to make their own submission to the Holyrood administration.

The council said: “Clubs organise their activities effectively on the basis of shared knowledge and experience, leading to the improvement of individual skills and self-reliance, and that there is no evidence from either experience or Mountain Rescue Committee of Scotland statistics that there is a need for a mechanism for regulation for recreational mountaineering activities.”

It added: “If clubs value their current freedoms to enjoy Scotland’s mountains then the MCofS believe that clubs should respond individually to the Scottish Government consultation by the closing date of 30 March.”

Online submissions can be made via the Scottish Government’s website.

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