As the Deputy will be aware, my Department has been working for some time to develop a scheme to indemnify private land owners, particularly in upland areas, with regard to the use of their lands for recreational purposes.
This is a complex issue and the legal rights of landowners must be respected, while trying to facilitate access to their lands for recreational users on a permissive basis. The introduction of such a scheme is a key priority for my Department to protect land owners and to support the continued provision of access to the countryside for recreational users.
My Department has been advised that an indemnity scheme such as the one envisaged will require legislative provision. In this context, my officials met with the Attorney General's Office recently to explore the various options open to the Department and to identify the precise legislation which would require to be introduced to implement such a scheme. It appears that a number of separate pieces of legislation could require amendment.
In light of the complexity involved, I am also considering other options that might be available to address the matter as an interim measure. My officials have been making enquiries into alternative options and will continue to work to find a solution that meets the concerns of landowners who provide access to their lands for recreational purposes.