Pen y Fan is among mountains closed by the national park. Photo: Bob Smith/grough

Pen y Fan is among mountains closed by the national park. Photo: Bob Smith/grough

A decision by national park bosses in the Brecon Beacons to close access land and rights of way in a large part of the area has been questioned by the British Mountaineering Council.

Brecon Beacons National Park Authority said the measures had been taken because people were continuing to break Welsh Government lockdown regulations.

A large area either side of the A470 in the Central Beacons has been put out of bounds, including south Wales’s highest mountain Pen y Fan.

The authority said it had become apparent that people are continuing to park at popular national park beauty spots, against Welsh Government regulations and putting themselves and the park’s fragile rural communities at risk.

It said it had closed popular areas of the national park that posed a risk of transmission of Covid-19.

But BMC Cymru, which represents climbers, mountaineers and hillwalkers in Wales, said: “We are concerned to see Brecon Beacons national park has decided to close large areas of access land, even to local people accessing the hills on foot/bicycle in accordance with regulations.

“Access to green spaces is vital for health and Covid transmission is very rare outdoors, especially in wide open spaces like the Beacons, and these closures seem to be disproportionate.

“The closures appear to have been made under regulations initially drafted in March 2020, before we knew that the risk of Covid transmission outdoors was very low.”

It said it had not been consulted on the closures and would write to the authority asking to see evidence that access-land closures were necessary.

Open access land, along with public footpaths, bridleways and restricted byways in the following areas have been closed to visitors and local residents: Pen y Fan, Corn Du, Cribyn, Waun Lysiog, Twyn Mwyalchod, Graig Fan Ddu, Gwaun Taf, Gwaun Perfedd, Cefn Crew, Tyle Brith, Pen Milan, Y Gyrn, Cefn Cwm Llwch, Allt Ddu and Bryn Teg.

On the eastern side of the A470, similar restrictions have been imposed on Fan Fawr, Rhos Dringarth, Fan Dringarth, Fan Llia, Waun Llywarch, Ton Teg, Waun Tincer and Mynydd y Garn.

The Beacons Way in those areas has also been closed. Car parks, including Taf Fechan Forest car parks at Neuadd and Cwmyfedwen have been shut, along with those at Pont-ar-Daf and Storey Arms next to the A470 and laybys south of Storey Arms.

Brecon Beacons chief executive Julian Atkins said the authority had agreed the closures with the Welsh Government, Dyfed Powys Police, National Trust Brecon Beacons and Monmouthshire, South Wales Trunk Road Agency, Natural Resources Wales and Powys County Council. He said: “People should not be using their cars to enjoy a walk in the countryside. Welsh Government guidance states that exercise should start and finish at home.

“We would like to thank both residents and visitors for their patience, support and for continuing to respect the restrictions in Wales. The protected landscape will be well worth the wait when it’s finally safe to return – safe for local communities, visitors and staff.”

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