APPG discusses impact of Brexit on mountaineering

Posted by Peter Burnside on 23/04/2021
Sun rising over Pen Y Fan in the Brecon Beacons. Photo: Shutterstock

The first 2021 meeting of the All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for Mountaineering was held on 22 April to discuss the important topic of mountain tourism and development of mountain knowledge post-BREXIT, in particular the rights of training providers to perform short-term work in Europe and the potential impact of this on the wider outdoor education and outdoor recreation sector in the UK.

The meeting was Chaired by Derek Twigg MP who is also the Chair of the APPG and a number of speakers presented including;

  • Paul Davies – Interim CEO, British Mountaineering Council
  • Ian Spare  – Director, British Association of International Mountain Leaders
  • Martin Doyle – President, British Mountain Guides
  • John Cousins – Chief Executive, Mountain Training United Kingdom & Ireland

The discussions with parliamentarians focussed on the following points:

  • Involvement in the International Mountaineering community cascades knowledge and information into the UK Mountaineering training and qualification schemes helping to raise standards and improve knowledge generally for those taking part in activities in our mountains.
  • The members of the professional British Association of Mountain Guides and British Association of International Mountain Leaders are being severely affected by the uncertainty of access to work in EU states arising from the UK departure from the EU.
  • The UK members had unfettered access to work and have used the EU administered EPC for the registering of members qualifications until the beginning of 2021. Whilst the qualification continues to be recognised in the EU currently the right to work by members is unclear.
  • British Mountain Guides and International Mountain Leaders work seasonally (periods of summer and winter) as itinerant workers visiting different mountain ranges in several alpine countries to accommodate their UK client needs and the vagaries of mountain weather and conditions. Members need access to work with their UK clients in Europe, which is different from seeking to enter the local employment markets.

Paul Davies, BMC interim CEO, says: “Guides and International Mountain Leaders are key components in the development of knowledge and mountaineering best practice in the UK. The ability to deliver across a wide range of environments allows the continued development of the depth and breadth of experience needed to stay at the top of their game; collaboration, sharing of experiences and discussions of new techniques with international peers allows that knowledge to be brought back to the UK. Over many years formal and informal methods have been developed to allow this knowledge to cascade through the whole system – whether that be the IML who is supporting DofE candidates or a Guide delivering a skills course to the next generation of Mountain Leaders and Mountaineering and Climbing Instructors. The BMC is concerned that the barriers that have been put in place by BREXIT, if not addressed, will interrupt this flow of information and that will be to the detriment of the whole of the system.”

The sector is asking for better support from government departments (BEIS and DCMS) to negotiate Mutual Partnership agreements with the EU or individual states to secure access, and allow reciprocal arrangements for EU Mountain Guides to also work seasonally with their clients in the UK.

The sector is asking for better support from government departments (BEIS and DCMS) to negotiate Mutual Recognition Agreements with the EU or individual states to secure access, and allow reciprocal arrangements for EU Mountain Guides to also work seasonally with their clients in the UK.

Following some very positive discussions, Cath Flitcroft who provides the Secretariat to the Group will:

  • Pull together key information for Derek Twigg MP to use during an adjournment debate which will raise the issue directly with the BEIS Minister
  • Draft an MP letter ahead of an adjournment debate for members to send asking their MP to attend
  • Share the presentation made by Ian, Martin and John with the House of Lords Brexit Economy Committee
  • Share the presentation with the APPG for Sport at a future meeting which will look at the impact of Brexit on working in the outdoors across Europe.

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