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Rules for Outdoor Excursions

The provision of a number of activities is governed by the Adventure Activities Licensing Regulations 2004.

The regulations state that any commercial concern that provides caving, climbing, water sports or trekking activities for a fee to under 18s, and without a parent or guardian being present, must have a licence to do so.

These licences are obtained from the Adventure Activities Licensing Service (AALS). The specific definitions of the four outdoor adventure activities are as follows:

  • Caving or potholing – the exploration of caves, underground passages, disused mines, cave diving and all other similar activities that require climbing and diving equipment to be safe
  • Climbing – climbing, traversing, abseiling and scrambling on natural terrain and man-made structures, excepting man-made rock walls, which need safety equipment
  • Water sports – sailing, water-skiing, canoeing, kayaking, rafting and windsurfing when done more than 50 metres away from land or when water is turbulent. Rowing with oars, or rafting powered by a motor are not included.
  • Trekking – walking, running, pony and horse trekking, biking, skiing when not on a specific ski piste and any other similar activity that takes place on land that is 600metres above sea level or more than 30 minutes from a road or refuge.

Getting an adventure activities licence

To get the necessary licence the AALS must be contacted. There will be forms to fill in, an inspection to pass and a fee to pay. The areas in which the activity provider must conform to regulations are:

  • Risk assessment – all potential risks that could develop into actual harm to a person during an activity need to be assessed, taking into account the limitations of young people. This should be done by the activity providers; if no employee is capable of doing this then an external assessor must be used. There should be regular re-evaluation of risks and a new assessment done if any activity is changed.
  • Control measures – the risk assessment must identify what control measures are necessary to potential dangers.
  • Staff – staff must be qualified and experienced in the activity that they will be supervising.
  • Safety information – this must be provided to all staff and all customers, not only made available though, this needs to be actively given to people.
  • Equipment – must be adequate to provide safety and be maintained to at least this level.
  • First aid – there must be qualified first aiders to provide treatment and well provisioned equipment for doing so.

These requirements are enforced the Health and Safety Executive.