A PUBLIC consultation on the best ways to encourage young people, the disabled, those from inner cities and black and ethnic minority communities, to visit and enjoy the English countryside has been launched.
Encouraging a diverser range of visitors to England's
The exercise is being run by the Countryside Agency on behalf of Defra and seeks people's views on an action plan that aims, over a 10 year period, to increase the number of people from these groups, who choose to make use of the outdoor recreational opportunities that exist in areas such as the Yorkshire Dales.
The draft action plan is based on the findings of research undertaken as part of the Diversity Review which clearly demonstrated that when people from these, often excluded, groups experienced the outdoors, they were keen to return.
Here in the Dales, work is already underway to increase a sense of participation among the young and ethnic minority communities. The National Park Authority recently launched a DVD specifically aimed at attracting more Asian visitors to the Park.
A new bus service aimed at helping more town and city folk to visit the Yorkshire Dales was also launched earlier this month. The Dales Experience Bus will run from Huddersfield to Grassington and Hawes on the first Sunday of every month throughout the summer. Guides will travel on the busses to ensure that visitors are comfortable and know where to go and what to see.
There are millions of people up and down the country who are not currently enjoying the sense of freedom and the wide range of health benefits that visiting the countryside can bring
Andrew Wood - Countryside Agency
Barry Gardiner, Minister for Biodiversity, Landscape and Rural Affairs, said: "The Action Plan is all about working in partnership to show what the British countryside has to offer everyone.
"People are not making the most of even their local urban green spaces never mind the wider countryside. We need to know why and what we can do to encourage them.
"I am determined that we should do everything possible to give people of all ages and from all walks of life equal opportunity to enjoy and benefit from outdoor activities."
Andrew Wood, Countryside Agency Director, said: "There are millions of people up and down the country who are not currently enjoying the sense of freedom and the wide range of health benefits that visiting the countryside can bring - in either a deeply rural area or the green space closer to most people's homes.
"While it is not our responsibility to make people visit the countryside, it is our job to ensure everyone is aware of what the outdoors can offer them and give people every opportunity to enjoy it."
The consultation runs until 30th September is available at www.defra.gov.uk/outdoorsdiversity
Those without internet access can call the Defra helpline on 08459 33 55 77