HSE reviews climbing, hiking and mountaineering offer

BMC members are encouraged to submit their views on the Adventure Activities Licensing Authority review.

The Licensing Authority came into existence over 20 years ago after the Adventure Licensing Regulations came into effect in 1996.

The regulations place commercial providers of specific adventure activities under an inspection regime to ensure they operate safely when responsible for children.

Since 1996, nothing has changed regarding what the Authority inspects; that would require another visit to parliament.

However, over the past 20 years, non-licensed adventure activities have become more popular, such as high ropes courses and artificial climbing walls.

Commercial operators of these and other unlicensed activities are not required to hold a license.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) oversees licensing and has conducted a number of consultations. The current consultation offers the best opportunity to change the way licensing might work in the future.

Authority inspectors review operator safety procedures for the licensed activities they provide. The quality of this provision is not within the scope of licensing, unless of course the quality is such that it may affect safety.

The current consultation suggests three options for consideration:

  1. No change. Licensed to remain as is, overseen by HSE.
  2. An expansion of licensed activities. The HSE would continue to oversee licensing, but certain activities that currently fall outside the scope of licensing would be included.
  3. A non-statutory, industry-driven scheme. The HSE would no longer oversee licensing.

As operators are keen to demonstrate to the public that the adventure activities they offer are both safe and of high quality, non-statutory programs have existed for a number of years, such as the Adventuremark run by the industry.

Many operators will have more than one inspection, such as one for their license and one from Adventuremark, sometimes delivered by the same inspector.

As it is not statutory, the third option provides a system that can be flexible and evolve with any future development. As the industry evolves, a non-statutory regime may also evolve. A voluntary scheme would cover both safety and quality of supply.

Options one and two are similar and would result in the same system or an expanded version of what is happening now. They would both be only interested in security.

One concern people might have with option three is the removal of the legal requirement for operators of permitted activities to hold a licence.

By law, operators must comply with the Occupational Health and Safety Act. Removing statutory licenses does not remove this requirement. A non-statutory, industry-led regime would ensure that operators comply with this law.

BMC members are encouraged to read the HSE licensing review discussion paper.

The HSE consultation is ending soon and BMC members are encouraged to submit their views before March 9th.

Anyone interested in finding out more could consider attending the consultation review hosted by the Wales Adventure Tourism Organization and the UK Adventure Industries Group on the evening of February 26 at Plas Menai, Caernarfon. Please register in advance if you plan to attend

Comments received on the consultation will inform the HSE Board’s decision on the future of the Adventure Activities Licensing Authority.

Whether you want to switch from indoor climbing to outdoor sport or trad climbing, we run many courses across the country and throughout the year especially for 11-17 year olds.

BOOK: Youth Trad Climbing Lessons

BOOK: Sport climbing course for young people

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There are a large number of free places in the courses for families who find it difficult to afford them. All families living in rented accommodation who are receiving Income Assistance or Universal Credit can contact a course instructor or James McHaffie for a place.

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