Edinburgh | A consultation on the development of a safety system for adventure activities in Scotland has been launched by the Minister for Commonwealth Games and Sport, Shona Robison.
The Scottish Government is considering the best way forward for Scotland in light of the UK Government’s plan to replace the statutory Adventure Activities Licensing Authority (AALA) with a new voluntary code of practice.
The AALA was established in 1995 to licence caving, climbing, trekking and watersports operators after four young people lost their lives canoeing at Lyme Bay in Dorset.
The consultation, launched today, seeks views on three proposals:
Adopting the model proposed by the UK Government – this would see the current licensing regime replaced with a voluntary code of practice. This would remove the costs and bureaucracy associated with licensing but end the current inspection regime
Introducing a non-statutory, voluntary accreditation scheme – this would still include an element of inspection and accreditation, however, public bodies would only be able to promote and encourage compliance not enforce any scheme.
Introducing a statutory scheme – this would see the continuation of an inspection and statutory scheme for Scotland, although an appropriate body would need to be identified to carry out its functions
Launching the consultation today at Glenmore Lodge near Aviemore, Scotland’s National Outdoor Training Centre, Ms Robison, Minister for Commonwealth Games and Sport, said: “Taking part in outdoor adventure activities can be a highly enjoyable and rewarding experience for all the people of Scotland and our visitors. We want to increase levels of physical activity in Scotland by providing opportunities for everyone to safely take part in the wealth of active pursuits and attractions which are available the length and breadth of the country. We also want to do all we can to boost our key adventure tourism sector.”
However, we recognise that many people – including parents – believe an appropriate safety system should continue to provide a level of reassurance and confidence to users, their families and the wider public.”
The UK Government’s proposed abolition of the AALA has implications for Scotland. Any safety system developed for adventure activities in Scotland would need to meet the needs of Scottish providers and users whilst being robust and proportionate.
“That’s why I want to hear views on whether a statutory inspection and licensing regime should be maintained or if a new approach should be adopted and would encourage anyone with an interest to have their say on what should be put in place.”
Nigel Marshall, Chair of the Scottish Advisory Panel for Outdoor Education (SAPOE), said:”We agree that consultation with stakeholders is the key to finding an informed solution to the perceived problem of removing AALA. We believe that through this process a solution which is credible, robust and reassuring for parents and local authorities will be found. It will also offer the opportunity for providers who use Adventure Activity Licensing as a marketing tool to offer their opinion.”
Clearly Scottish Government through this consultation has demonstrated its commitment to outdoor learning and therefore SAPOE must endorse this initiative.”
Iain Peter, Chair of the Scottish Adventure Activity Forum (SAAF), said: “SAAF welcomes the Scottish Government’s consultation. In Scotland we enjoy unrivalled access to the natural environment and we believe that young people should have the opportunity to take part in adventurous outdoor activities safely. Clearly we need to strike a balance between risk and bureaucracy and it is only right that we take this opportunity to consult with providers of activities, parents, participants, teachers and other interested parties to determine the best way forward for Scotland.”
Kim Atkinson, Policy Director, of the Scottish Sports Association (the independent voice of Scottish Governing Bodies), said: “The Scottish Sports Association welcomes this consultation and the opportunity for all Scottish stakeholders to contribute to these important discussions. Voluntary sports clubs are a significant stakeholder in the provision of adventure activities within Scotland. We strongly encourage those bodies representing voluntary sports clubs involved in adventure activities to respond to this consultation.”
We will continue to work closely with the Scottish Government in representing the views of our members – the Scottish Governing Bodies of sport – throughout this process.”
To support the consultation there will be a number of regional events held across Scotland, which will run during the 12 week consultation period.
The Adventure Licensing Activities Authority was established by the Activity Centres (Young Persons’ Safety) Act 1995 and the Adventure Activities Licensing Regulations 2004, which requires commercial providers of adventure activities for young people under the age of 18 to hold a licence for the activities of caving, climbing, trekking and watersports.
A licence is required where schools or colleges provide activities to pupils of another educational establishment or to other members of the public, in return for payment.
Activity centres, field study centres and the like which are run by education authorities or departments are also required to have a licence if they provide one of the in-scope activities.
The HSE was designated as the Adventure Licensing Activities Authority from April 2007, with Tourism Quality Services Ltd contracted to administer the licensing scheme across England, Scotland and Wales on HSE’s behalf.
In June the HSE launched a 12-week consultation seeking views on the abolition of the AALA, replacing it with a new code of practice. This would require the 1995 Act to be repealed. As its subject matter is both devolved and reserved the Scottish Parliament must be given the opportunity to provide its consent through a Legislative Consent Motion. There is therefore the ability for Scotland to develop its own solution if minded to do so.
The duties of the AALA, carried out by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), have until now applied across the UK. However, Scottish parliamentary consent is required if the change being considered by the UK Government was to apply north of the border.