Information about the SWOAPG
Summary, Member benefits and Joining info
A brief summary
The South Wales Outdoor Activity Providers Group (SWOAPG) is the representative organisation for all providers of Outdoor Adventurous Activities in the South Wales area. It represents its membership to a wide variety of public sector bodies and other organisations, ensuring a collaborative and positive approach to activity provision and development.
The Group is led by an elected Steering Group who represent a broad spectrum of outdoor provision from within the sector, including the Chair and Coordinator. With financial support from Visit Wales the Coordinator manages the day to day administration with members being consulted for important decisions via e-mail or at the AGM.
The SWOAPG Terms of Reference for 2016 can be viewed here
The SWOAPG Vision Statement for 2016 can be viewed here
The Steering Group Consists of the Following Members,
The benefits of being a member of SWOAPG
We are very keen for all Outdoor Activity Providers active in South Wales and the Brecon Beacons National Park to join SWOAPG, so that all providers :
There is currently no cost to join SWOAPG and you can find out further information about SWOAPG via our Terms of Reference and Vision Statement above.
To join SWOAPG as a Provider you just need to complete the membership form and return it to the Co-ordinator. You can also join the group as an Individual or Observer organisation, giving you access to the same information and opportunities as a Provider.
To ensure each Member receives the amount of information that's right for them, there are 3 Membership Levels available. Signing the Natural Resources Wales Concordat for the Waterfalls Area can be done at any of the 3 Levels.
You will only receive important Alerts, Updates, and relevant e-mails (i.e. constitutional information regarding AGM's etc.)
As above, as well as a further information on Activity Provision and Training/Workshops
As above, as well as information on Tourism and Marketing Opportunities
Please Contact Us if you have require any further information on joining SWOAPG.
The AGM and further information.
SWOAPG hold an AGM between the months of October and November. Full details of the next AGM will be sent to all members in good time and will also appear in the Events section of the website.
The minutes from the 2016 13th Full Members Meeting on the 7th November 2016 (AGM) can be viewed here
The minutes from the 2015 11th Full Members Meeting on the 2nd November 2015 (AGM) can be viewed here.
If you require copies of previous meetings and AGM's then please contact us
Alerts and Important Updates
Find posted important and useful information, alerts and updates that may affect activity delivery in the South Wales area. If you have an update, alert or relevant member information, please do contact us
The Work of the SWOPAG
A summary of current projects, tasks, site access agreements and more.
Click on the pictures to access the full information
The land within Waterfall Country is owned by Natural Resources Wales, the Brecon Beacons National Park Authority and a number of private landowners. While much of the site is designated Open Access land, this only allows for general public access on foot, not commercial or otherwise organised activities.
Dinas Rock and the Mellte Gorge are well used sites in the area, the Car Park at Dinas is a focual point for both activities and problems. Over the years there has been a negative impact on both the environment and local community in this area. SWOAPG has worked to provide guidance to its members in terms of the way they use the site to minimise our impact.
Frustrated with limited access to inland water for delivering Canoeing and Kayaking for Groups, SWOAPG, working closely with the BBNPA Splash Officer, was keen to look at the possibility of re-gaining access to reservoirs that were once used for such activities, but had been removed from use over the years due to concerns of ‘safety' of water users.
One of the areas SWOPAG have been active in is ensuring access to outdoor activity venues is maintained for the benefit of members across the South Wales region. The effectiveness of SWOAPG has been demonstrated in Swansea with the introduction, without consultation, of a permit scheme for surfing by the City Council at Caswell Bay.
National Trust Access
Early in 2011 it came to SWOAPG’s attention that the National Trust were considering the introduction of a Licensing and Ambassador Scheme on their Gower landholdings. We proactively contacted the National Trust on Gower to convince them to withdraw their single site, single provider ‘Ambassador Scheme’ and to abandon plans to impose Licensing. There is still work to do to secure a long term working arrangement with National Trust on Gower, but progress so far is promising.
Resources and Further Information
Since SWOAPG was formed in July 2010, many Providers have asked whether the BBNP Outdoor Environmental Charter that had been developed in 2000 could now be taken on by SWOAPG. Enquiring at SWOAPG meetings whether SWOAPG members agree with this, it was clear that it made a lot of sense to keep it and that people working in the Outdoors are generally passionate about an Environmentally Sensitive approach.
Members signed up to the Charter are identified on the Membership Map
Thanks to a grant provided by CCW in 2013/14 the group were able to develop a range of resources and deliver a number of linked events for members. Here you will find links to wider Environmental Resources as well as our own, to help give Activity Providers and Instructors a helping in hand in running sessions that are both Environmentally Educational and Sustainable.
for signed up members
The logo is there to show members who have signed up to the charter. The badge can be used to promote their contribution towards sustainable and environmentally considerate outdoor activity provision. If you are a member and not signed up then contact us
downloadable guides and web links
Click here for a comprehensive guide to the lower plant life of the Mellte and Sychryd (species guide) including Lichens, Flowers, Bryophytes and Liverworts.
Click here for general info about Lichens and Bryophytes.
Click here for information about animal tracks.
Website Links :
downloadable guides and web links
River Canoeing and Paddlesport
Events and Workshops
Information and details of our up and coming events, meetings and workshops.
To book a place or enquire for more info please click on the links for the workshop you are interested in.
Over a period of time the SWOAPG workshop programme has continued to grow and develop and our workshops are often well attended by a cross representation of our membership. Click here for our statement of purpose which clarifies the aims of the SWOAPG workshop programme
Please note, to manage the bookings of workshop places we are using a 3rd party booking agent to manage this on our behalf. To book a place simply follow the links below. It is important you think carefully about booking a place and committing to the event as often our workshops and events are over subscribed but not fully attended. If you are unable to attend once you have booked please contact us.
Information and Adverts for outdoor related job opportunities in South Wales
If you have a Job Opportunity you would like to be placed on the website please contact us
Tender renews in October and a new person is required to fill the roll. Get in touch if you'd like to know more
Full Project List
The following section contains information about current (and past) projects and work undertaken by SWOAPG
NRW Waterfalls Area Concordat
"Organised groups can gain permission to operate in the area from Natural Resources Wales through agreement with a Concordat"
The land within Waterfall Country is owned by Natural Resources Wales, the Brecon Beacons National Park Authority and a number of private landowners. While much of the site is designated Open Access land, this only allows for general public access on foot, not commercial or otherwise organised activities. Private land may not be fenced or marked but there is no right of access to these areas.
Organised groups can gain permission to operate in the area from Natural Resources Wales through agreement with a Concordat.
As much of the area in and around the gorges is legally protected for the high quality and rarity of its habitats, activity groups must follow a simple Code of Conduct to minimise the environmental impact of a visit. Compliance with the Code is a requirement of being permitted to access the site.
This Concordat and the accompanying Code of Conduct and guidelines were developed between representatives of Outdoor Activity Providers and BBNPA and NRW working collaboratively. This work took place from 2008, with Seminars in January 2009 and May 2010 and the finalised Concordat was one of the key factors in the launch of SWOAPG in July 2010.
Outdoor Providers wishing to use the Sychryd Gorge and the Lower Mellte for Gorge Walking are required to first join SWOAPG, then attend the Code of Conduct and finally sign-up to the Concordat to enable them to use the site with Landowner permission. For the Upper Mellte a separate Code of Conduct training must be attended, as well as an AALS licence or technical advisors statement.
This agreement and collaborative approach to environmentally sustainable use of a SSSI and SAC by Activity Providers was the first of its kind in the UK and has been a template for what can be achieved by working together.
A list of providers who have signed up to the Concordat and have undertaken the Code of Conduct Training for the Sychryd/Mellte Gorges can be found here.
Dinas and Mellte Gorge and Abseil Access
The Dinas Rock Venue is a heavily used site by Outdoor Activity Providers, as the Car Park here is a focus point for Gorge Walking, Climbing & Abseiling, Walking, Caving, etc. There has clearly been a negative impact on the local community in this area for some time and SWOAPG has worked to provide guidance to it’s members in terms of the way they use the site. Access Guidance has been provided to all members in the form of the document ‘Dinas Access Guidelines 2011’, which deals with matters such as Litter, Parking, Noise and use of Changing areas. The Steering Group has a Dinas Liaison Representative who ensure that ongoing use of this site is handled more sensitively and relations with the local community continue to improve.
The Rules for Access to Dinas for Gorge Walking are reviewed annually at a SWOAPG full meeting and agreed by the members please find the 2013 Access Rules here:
Code of Conduct and Gorge Map can be downloaded here:
In July 2013 a letter was issued by Paul Dann, NRW, to clarify the situation in regards to 'sub-contracting' of work in an attempt to keep group bookings that would normally exceed daily usage limits. To view this letter please click here. This letter does now form part of the Dinas Access Rules 2013 and can be found as an appendix.
Reminder - the land on the southern side of the Sychryd gorge is privately owned and is not covered under the concordat. The landowner has asked that gorge walking and mine / cave exploration not take place on their land.
Dinas Rock Main Face Abseil
The use of the main face of Dinas Rock for abseiling with groups has long been a sensitive issue. Here is what you need to know:
The former Countryside Council for Wales has expressed concerns about use of the River Mellte for gorge walking and its impact on the environment. To safeguard both the environment in the gorge and our use of it, a process of surveying and assessing, similar to that of the Sychryd use, was actioned.
Funding has been granted from BBNP to have the Mellte surveyed in late spring this year. Once it is known what species are resident in the gorge, we can look at how the actions of gorge walkers might impact on them.
After the survey has been completed a map will be produced highlighting environmentally sensitive areas. It is our hope that a sustainable route can be found down the river and that the activity can continue, as it has on the Sychryd.
The Survey has now been complete as well as the Code of Conduct Map and Leaflet for the Mellte Gorge.
Full details of training, implementation and requirements have been given at the full meeting on the 29th April 2013.
If you currently use the Mellte for Gorge Walking and have not received any information regarding training please contact the Co-ordinator to get your copy of the code of conduct and info on the training sessions required.
The Mellte Access Rules can be viewed here.
Technical Advice and Advisor Information:
As per the requirements of the Mellte Gorge Code of Conduct, all Outdoor Activity Providers who are not holders of an A.A.L.A. license must select or provide details of a suitable Technical Advisor who has witnessed the organisation / provider in evidencing satisfactory policies and procedures and also in the safe delivery of Canyoning and/or Gorge Walking activity at the site.
The Health and Safety Executive have produced the following guidance on suitable skills, knowledge, technical competence and requirements of a Technical Advisor:
'Technical Advice for Gorge Walking - if the activity falls beyond the experience of management it would be advisable to get advice from one or more appropriately experienced and qualified person or persons. It may be necessary to determine 'appropriate' from first principles by considering the requirements of a particular venue. For example appropriate Technical Advisor(s) could be holders of the Mountain Instructor Certificate (MIC), Mountain Instructor Award (MlA), British Mountain Guide (BMG), Cave Instructor Certificate (CIC), one of the BCU sea kayaking, surfing or white water rescue awards, Swift-water Rescue Technician, Surfing awards or other rescue experience and/or qualifications. The choice will depend on the characteristics of the venue and the very specialized expertise of the individual. In either event the Technical Advisor(s) should be able to offer useful, constructive advice on the activity including, amongst other things, staff competence, operating procedures, equipment, ratios, use of assistants, etc.
Technical Advisors will generally have to satisfy each of the following 4 criteria. They must:
Please ensure that the person you appoint as your Technical Advisor (either internal or external) can meet the criteria above, as both NRW and BBNPA will seek to use the HSE advice as a benchmark standard.
Once you have selected a suitable Advisor then you must ensure that you complete, in partnership with your Advisor, the proforma which can be downloaded by clicking here.
Should you require any assistance in choosing a technical advisor then you have the following options:
Canoeing on Reservoirs Scheme
Access to selected Reservoirs of the Brecon Beacons
SWOAPG, working closely with the BBNPA and DCWW, have developed a scheme that allows access to four reservoirs in the national park (Pontsticill, Pentwyn, Beacons and Usk) for Providers delivering Canoeing, Kayaking and SUP to Groups.
The Passport scheme allows access to Providers (and Clubs) that are members of SWOAPG, if they sign up and purchase a Passport. The scheme is administered by BBNPA for DCWW, a charge is payable to cover the cost of administration.
This access arrangement supersedes any previous access agreements at these sites that may have been made with Outdoor Activity Providers.
We are pleased to announce the scheme will be running again for 2017-18.
The Passport will run from 1st April 2017 – 31st March 2018
The cost of the Passport is now ONLY £150 per year per organisation, or £190 for 2 passports issued to one organisation (These are not transferable between centres).
There is also the option to purchase 7 day passport's which can be purchased for £70. You must register for the scheme and then notify BBNPA each time you are planning to use the sites so the total of days used can be administered correctly.
How to apply - full details can be found in the Passport Packs, available from the – Brecon Beacons National Park Authority (Reservoir Passport), Plas y Ffynnon, Cambrian Way, Brecon, Powys, LD3 7HP, on via the links below:
**It should be noted that the Military do have their own and separate access agreements with DCWW and would not be included in this scheme**
Guidance on filling out the Passport Application Form:
In accordance with with the requirements of the passport application the SWOAPG have produced a generic risk management plan which, if providers are working within the scope of this advice, will serve as the necessary paper work required for the passport to be granted.
If you have an AALA licence covering Canoeing/Kayaking/SUP on open water then just submit your AALA reference code on the form.
You will need to place your insurance policy number and also expiry date as well as send a hard copy (scan or fax is also acceptable) with the form.
If you do not hold an AALA licence or you wish to work outside of the Risk Management Plan then you will need to submit your own risk assessment, policy and procedure with your passport application.
For non licensed providers please click here for a detailed check sheet which will help ensure that you are meeting the requirements of the application in terms of documentation and safety standards to help you save on time and additional work in your process.
PLEASE NOTE: When you come to sign up to the scheme please just ignore the SWOAPG membership number and leave blank, we currently do not issue these and this was a minor mistake made in the final print.
Caswell Surfing Permit Scheme
The License scheme for Surfing Providers for Caswell commenced on 1st January 2012 and the single day Permit System started at the same time
,One of the areas SWOPAG have been active is in ensuring access to outdoor activity venues is maintained for the benefit of members across the South Wales region. The effectiveness of SWOAPG has been demonstrated in Swansea with the introduction, without consultation, of a permit scheme for surfing by the City Council at Caswell Bay.
When we became aware of this scheme we entered into dialogue with Swansea County Council about access to Caswell Beach for Surfing. Early in 2011, they set up a License system for up to 3 Surf Providers and awarded a 3 year license to the only provider willing to apply for one. They then stated that no other delivery of Surfing would be permitted. This was all agreed before SWOAPG were made aware of their intentions. Subsequently SWOAPG representatives then met with Swansea County Council and they agreed to set up an additional arrangement for our members, whereby they could book access via a low cost permit system and hence have permission to use the site.
In the longer term they would be willing to review the situation at Caswell, but that having gone through procurement and awarded a license to a surfing operator, they were not prepared to withdraw that scheme at this stage and so the permit system would have to stay in place for Caswell at this time. They also re-iterated that their motives for doing this were purely driven by concerns about safety due to potential over-use of a what is a relatively small site, especially during summertime.
The License scheme for Surfing Providers for Caswell commenced on 1st January 2012 and the single day Permit System started at the same time. They have agreed to review the situation before the end of the first year and arrange an open meeting for all interested parties to have an input.
Click here for info from the Swansea County Council Website and how to access the permit
Glasbury to Hay
Canoeing Code of Conduct
A Code of Conduct is now in place for use of the River Wye between Glasbury and Hay. SWOAPG input into the consultation for this code to help create a "least restrictive" outcome.
The Code of Conduct document can be found here and contains all of the information you need to know.
All enquires should be directed to Countryside Services, Powys County Council
Telephone: 01597 827500
Previous projects and archives
Information and details of work and projects undertaken by SWOAPG
Mines and Tunnels Inspection Scheme
The Scheme had been in place since 1996 and is intended to provide clear guidance for Outdoor Activity Providers on the suitability of Mine and Tunnel sites for Group visits.
The Inspection took place once every two years and sites covered by the report were:
The inspection last took place on 9th April 2011.
As access has not been granted to inspect the Dinas mines it has not been deemed financially viable to run the inspection. When this situation changes the inspections will restart.
Organisations using any of these sites were recommended to subscribe to this scheme to ensure that their commitments are met in ensuring safe use of the sites from an Insurance, Licensing and HSE point of view. Mines are considered to be ‘places of work’ for anybody taking a group into them, this scheme being a means of satisfying the need to determine the ongoing suitability for access of such sites.
Subscription was £35 for two years.
Llangattock Access - 2015
This access agreement has been in place for some time, but is now due for review. SWOAPG will be working with BBNPA to review the agreement and, if appropriate, launch a modernised version during 2012.
New access agreement is now in place (2015). See BMC for more information
Valleys Regional Park (VRP) - 2014
Valleys Regional Park is an exciting, dynamic initiative to co-ordinate, drive and promote activities related to the environment and heritage and associated tourism activities across the valleys of south Wales, working in conjunction with the Welsh Assembly Government’s Heads of the Valleys and Western Valleys Regeneration Programmes, with marketing through the Valleys ‘Heart & Soul’ campaign, to change the reality and perceptions of the Valleys as a highly-desirable place to live, work and visit.
Over forty partners are involved to deliver these activities in a more effective, collaborative approach, both cross-sector and cross-boundary, towards a regional vision.
The overall objective is to enhance and promote the Valleys’ outstanding environmental and cultural assets thereby helping to regenerate the area.
The partnership’s activities cover the area that was essentially the former south Wales coalfield, defined as the Valleys Regional Park in the Wales Spatial Plan.
SWOAPG attends VRP Activity Group meetings and represents SWOPAG member interest in this project.
The Big Pitch 2013 - 2013
Congratulations to Goleg Gwent - Valleys Marketing Team for Winning the Big Pitch 2013
Also prizes for 1st and 2nd Runners up went to - Team SWAG (Ystrad Mynach College) and Reality (Bridgend College)
Blue Green Gym - 2012
SWOAPG are involved in the “Blue Green Gym pilot” . The Blue Green Gym (BGG) concept is focused on creating a memorable outdoor experience within the natural environment of the South Wales valleys, in the area bounded by the Valleys Regional Park (VRP)
The vision of the BGG is two-fold:-
Two pilot schemes are being designed for roll-out in 2012:-
SWOAPG representatives have sat on the BGG steering group seeking to protect and further the interests of our members and to ensure a collaborative approach to designing project pilots. A crucial aspect of our involvement has and continues to be ensuing that the pilot schemes designed:-
Wales Activity Tourism Organisation
Our National Representation
Pembrokeshire Outdoor Charter Group
Our regional partner in the West
Our regional partner in the North
Funding for this SWOAPG website platform was provided by Welsh Government through Visit Wales