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Warning: New EU law could clutter up mountains and caves.

Mountains and caves could be littered with warning signs if 'ludicrous' EU regulations are brought into force, according to an all party group of MPs and peers.

They are backing the efforts of specialists in outdoor activities to prevent the application of an EU Directive because they fear it will threaten safety and put access to the outdoors at risk.

The group will meet Work and Pensions Minister Jane Kennedy today to urge her not to implement the rules.

Conservative MP Alistair Burt (North East Bedfordshire) said: 'This threatens to be another example of Britain taking European regulations to a ludicrous extreme, with our officials interpreting them in a manner which will not be followed on the continent.

'Laughable though it sounds, it is not impossible that we will end up with signs warning the public that 'Mountains may be hazardous to your health' or 'Watch out there's ice about' on Snowdon, Ben Nevis or Helvellyn.

'This meeting follows two years of frustration with the Health and Safety Executive.

'The regulations were never designed with outdoor activities in mind and to seek to apply them inappropriately may not only be a nonsense, but could also damage rural businesses, the livelihood of instructors and put safety at risk.

'Those who work in outdoor activities have safety on their minds every moment of the day. I doubt Health and Safety officials can tell them much.'

John Cousins, director of Mountain Leader Training UK, said: 'HSE are trying to shoehorn adventure activities into the regulations while acknowledging that they were drawn up for the construction and related industries.

'We believe they will do nothing to improve safety and may well have a negative impact.

'Some of the requirements are for an industrial double rope system where the weight alone would preclude its use while climbing and be quite impossible to use underground in a caving system.

'Another requirement is the provision of warning signs for hazards and the reinforcement of fragile surfaces or the provision of airbags or netting.

'The average instructor would need a helicopter to carry all this stuff.'
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Publication:The Birmingham Post (England)
Date:Jun 23, 2004
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