The HSE Board has approved the removal of the Adventure Activity Licensing Regulations and the move to an industry-led; non-statutory; not-for-profit scheme underpinned by the Health and Safety at work etc. Act 1974, to provide assurance to users of outdoor activities.

Background

In June 2018, the HSE Board considered a paper on the feedback from the recent Discussion Document on the future of the Adventure Activities Licensing Authority (AALA) and the Adventure Activity Licensing Regulations (AALR).

The options in the Discussion Document were as follows:

  1. Retain the AALR regulations and current scheme underpinned by the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974, and increase fees.
  2. Retain the AALR regulations and current scheme underpinned by the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974, but increase fees and extend the activities in-scope
  3. Remove the AALR regulations and move to an industry-led; non-statutory; not-for-profit scheme underpinned by the Health and Safety at work etc. Act 1974, to provide assurance to users of outdoor activities.

The Discussion Document did not ask respondents to state a preference for any of the options, but asked respondents to say which options they found acceptable or unacceptable and why.

The number of acceptable/unacceptable responses for each option was not significantly different. Analysis of the written feedback was important in identifying the aspirations of respondents in relation to the sort of system they wanted to see in the future. The feedback also provided insight into the perceived pros and cons of each option.

Board decision

The HSE Board requested additional information, and at a meeting in September 2018 and following discussion of the information provided, it approved the Option 3 proposal.

The Minister of State for disabled people, Sarah Newton MP, has confirmed her support for the HSE Board’s decision to pursue Option 3. HSE will continue to engage with the Devolved Governments and stakeholders throughout this process.

The AALA team has thanked stakeholders for their patience and issued a reminder that the final decision rests with Parliament and it will take a number of years before a conclusion is reached.

Watersports such as sailing, windsurfing and other craft whose principal means of propulsion is the wind, come under scope of the Adventure Activity Licensing Regulations and therefore require an Adventure Activity Licence.

In 2012 the RYA and the Maritime and Coastguard Agency entered into an agreement whereby recognition of an RYA Recognised Training Centre (RTC) under the RYA’s conditions of recognition for the RYA Dinghy, Windsurfing and Power schemes is deemed to be equivalent to certification under the Small Commercial Vessel Code of Practice.

As a consequence of this, the Adventure Activity Licensing Service (AALS) agree that an RTC recognised for and delivering the RYA Dinghy or Windsurfing schemes now comes under the scope of the Merchant Shipping exemption and does not require an Adventure Activity Licence due to this activity. This exemption, however, only applies to activity covered by RYA recognition. For example, if an RTC conducts other activity which comes under the scope of the Adventure Activity Licensing, such as kayaking, then it continues to require a licence.

Next steps

It’s important to note that there are no immediate changes to the licensing scheme. Licence holders should continue to engage with AALS and ensure they have a valid licence for activities in scope of the regulations. Stakeholders will be notified well in advance of any changes and if necessary any transition arrangements to ensure that things continue to run smoothly.

The RYA is committed to representing the interests of our Recognised Training Centres as the situation develops and is working closely with industry bodies such as the Outdoor Education Advisers’ Panel (OEAP) and the Council for Learning Outside the Classroom (CLOC).

We will keep interested parties informed by providing regular updates on our website and in the bi-monthly Wavelength e-newsletter, which is packed with inside industry knowledge, expert opinion on the latest kit and technology, top coaching tips, CPD and much more. 

AALS Retender

The Adventure Activities Licensing Service is presently operated by TQS Ltd, a not-for-profit company under contract to the Adventure Activities Licensing Authority. The current contract with TQS Ltd will end on 31 March 2020.

HSE will shortly be announcing its intention to retender. The procurement exercise will be based on the current legislation. A three month formal procurement exercise is expected to start around March/April 2019.