Steve Pardoe's Snowdonia Green Key Strategy Statement Page
Update 16. November 2005 : new draft published for consultation

Sion Caffell writes:

Please draw attention to the fact that there is a NEW Snowdonia Green Key Strategy and Working Plan 2005/2006 (Draft August 2005) out for consultation. Responses are to be made by 15th December 2005. See www.snowdonia-freedomtochoose.org.uk for details".

I'm passing this on without comment or endorsement - Ed.


Previously on Snowconia (30. January 2002)...

The official version of the consultation document has become available here. I became aware of it through the uk.rec.climbing newsgroup. To quote:

1.1 The Snowdonia Green Key Initiative is a pioneering and innovative scheme aimed at achieving sustainable rural development. Its aims to stimulate new business and tourism opportunities and better environmental management through developing a network of efficient, flexible and integrated transport alternatives to car travel throughout the area.
1.2 The Initiative covers the popular mountainous area of Northern Snowdonia, much of it within the Snowdonia National Park, and its adjacent communities within the counties of Gwynedd and Conwy (see Map page iv).
1.3 This strategy provides the basis for consulting with communities, individuals and other relevant interest groups and outlines a suggested framework for implementing the Initiative over the next 5 years or so.

And...

3.1 The Snowdonia Green Key Initiative's overarching goal is sustainable rural development - that is to ensure that tourism helps sustain thriving local communities and economies without compromising the area's unique environmental and cultural characteristics. Such a goal will only be achieved if economic and in particular future tourism development is linked to the management of the environment.
[...]
3.2.5 Progressively reorganize the existing provision of car parking in the core mountainous areas of the Park and the Gateways. These parking arrangements would reflect the varying seasonal tourist demands and use of the area, and be organised so as to maximise both economic opportunities for local business and to meet the varying requirements of the different types of visitors to the Park be they mountaineers, climbers or sightseers.


Discussion on the newsgroup expresses concern that to "reorganize" car parking may mean to restrict, or even to eliminate it altogether, in favour of a compulsory park and ride scheme. While this may suit some visitors, it seems unlikely to meet the requirements of mountaineers and climbers, who need the assurance of transport at the beginning and end of what may be very long days, at any time of year and in all weathers.

Here's my reply, in two parts.

From my covering letter...

Gwenllian M. P. Owens, Project Officer
Snowdonia Green Key Initiative
Planning and Economic Development Department
Council Office, CAERNARFON
Gwynedd, LL55 1SH

Dear Gwenllian Owens,

I am pleased to enclose my Response Form to the Snowdonia Green Key Strategy Statement.

I have been walking and climbing in Snowdonia ever since I climbed Tryfan in 1955, at the age of seven. I appreciate this opportunity to express my views.

You may be interested to know that I learned of this Strategy through the uk.rec.climbing newsgroup (Usenet) on the Internet, where a lively discussion is taking place. This is naturally expressed mainly from the point of view of climbing and walking visitors, rather than the local communities, but may provide you with a flavour of "outdoor community" sentiment, should you wish to access it.

My own (rather narrow) concern is that I should continue to be able to gain reasonably easy access to the mountains (especially between Snowdon and the Carneddau) at any time of year and at any time of day or night, to cater for early starts and late returns, with particular emphasis on winter climbing. A "Sherpa" style of service may not be economically viable at such times, but the provision of a reliable and frequent service, at all hours, is an essential prerequisite to the banning of private car parking within easy walking distance of the mountain routes.

I urge you to be seen to be taking into account all the views of the visiting, as well as the local, communities; without the former, there is no future for the latter.

Yours sincerely,


My comments in the boxes of the response form...

Reply 1 (Sections 1 & 2)

I write as a climber/mountain walker, and I appreciate this opportunity to express my views. I think that it is of paramount importance that "outdoor" visitors should not be discouraged by unnecessary bureaucracy (such as a perceived "jobsworth" mentality) when planning a visit to Snowdonia. Whether you like it or not, the private car is the fastest, most reliable and convenient means of access for the vast majority of visitors, especially if they have climbing equipment with them. If you make it too difficult for people to drive by car to the part of Snowdonia they wish to visit (eg to climb Tryfan) they will simply go somewhere else, and your scheme will fail.

Reply 2 (Sections 3 & 4)

While the provision of the "Sherpa" service has been of some benefit (as for example during the FMD outbreak, when it became the only practicable means of access once roadside car parking had been closed: was this indeed a softening-up exercise in disguise?) it is vital that its frequency, capacity and running hours are adequate. For example, it must absolutely guarantee to provide a return to the designated gateway car park, however late at night and whatever the weather. If climbers/ramblers return to the bus stop later than expected, owing to an accident, poor navigation or simply through misjudging a route duration, they MUST be able to rely on transport back to their car. Failure to provide such a comprehensive service will not be tolerated by the outdoor community, and they will surely undermine your scheme by boycotting it, going elsewhere to walk, or even threatening civil disobedience. Provision of such a comprehensive service will be extremely expensive, but you must budget for it, or the scheme will fail.

Reply 3 (Section 6, proposals)

There are simply too many objectives for me to comment on meaningfully, and I wonder whether enough thought has been given to prioritising them. For example, if the inside-area car parking restrictions are imposed before the alternative transport arrangements are fully in place, it will be disastrous.

I note (Section 2.4) that "it is estimated that traffic levels around the core of Northern Snowdonia will increase by between 15 and 20 per cent over the next twenty years. Managing the implications of this growth is itself a challenge". Really? That is less than one percent per annum, compounded, which should be easily manageable and is probably within your measurement error band. If you mean 15 percent per year increase over 20 years, that would be a factor of about 16, which is incredible. If you give the impression that you are deliberately confusing the economic and environmental arguments, you will win neither.

Reply 4 (Further comments)

I appreciate this opportunity to express my views. It is clear that a great deal of effort is going into the consultation process, and this is to be applauded.

Doing nothing is not an option, and everyone with a financial or recreational interest in this priceless area has a responsibility to consider very carefully the conflicting needs of residents, investors and visitors.

My wife and I visit Snowdonia (mainly the area between Snowdon and the Carneddau) several times each year, almost always as day visitors. We spend relatively little, but we do try to buy our food for the day and an evening meal in the area. During the FMD outbreak, Snowdonia was one of the first National Parks to reopen its paths, and we tried to reward that initiative by visiting more often, and spending more money when we did so.

Above all, do please try to keep the outdoor community on-side, as they are probably your most sustainable long term asset.


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