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Adventure UK Option 3 Development Update

November 2020


Following widespread consultation across all UK nations in 2017, the Adventure Activity industry proposed to HSE an alternative to the current Adventure Activities Licensing Authority (AALA) statutory licensing scheme. The UK Adventure Industry Group (UKAIG) was established to consider the industry’s proposal. The membership of this group mainly came from the Adventure Activities Industry Advisory Council plus other interested bodies within the sector.

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These bodies combined to form Adventure UK under a changed AAIA Council Constitution. Adventure UK formed the Option 3 Working Group (O3WG) as it has become known, which was tasked with developing an industry led enhanced accreditation scheme to replace statutory adventure activity licensing in March 2023.

Work has now recommenced, and the Mountain Training Trust have offered, pro bono, to provide project management including provision of Loel Collins, the Director of Learning at Plas-y-Brenin, as Project Consultant to assist with the development of the scheme. This is a generous offer from an organisation with a long and trusted history in the sector. Adventure UK agreed to accept MTT’s offer on the 12 October 2020.


To establish a sector led sustainable inspection-based regime to replace statutory licensing through careful design, development and promotion. Specifically, this will require identification of:

  • The key features of a non-statutory scheme that meets the criteria of the HSE
  • The key features of an accreditation scheme that meets the needs of the industry
  • How a sector led scheme can continue to improve the standards of delivery of adventurous activity in a consistent manner across the home nations
  • The true sustainable costs of a sector led scheme and what pricing approach reflects the range of size and type of delivery models

HSE timeline from Proposal to Implementation

  • The is now a new Minister at DWP who HSE will brief. Adventure UK to send a briefing to HSE note which may be included.
  • There is a new Chair of the HSE Board, Sarah Newton. She was the Minister who approved the HSE working with Adventure UK to develop Option 3.

Next Steps

  1. Adventure UK to submit by mid-2021 the Option 3 scheme proposal and business plan to HSE Board for scrutiny against the HSE Criteria.
  2. Once HSE Board approves the proposal we would enter a 12-week public consultation (this does not include the preparation and analysis time surrounding this).
  3. Recommendations put to the Minister
  4. Parliamentary debate to take the Activity Centres (Young Persons’ Safety) Act off the statute - time frame un-known. Best case, by March 2023. But the current Adventure RMS Contract could be extended by another 2 years allowing for slippage in this process. 
  5. Time frame for transfer of schemes once Parliamentary approval is achieved to be agreed

In discussions, HSE have advised that progress through Parliament of action to repeal the Act is far from certain. In case the Act is not repealed then Adventure UK should work with HSE to develop a Plan B to amend the current regulations. We agreed that this should not be seen as an easy alternative and that we were all committed to the development and implementation of Option 3, but it was wise to have a backstop so if the proposals are not accepted that we have not wasted all out work and efforts.

A 3-phase business plan has been drafted by the O3WG which aims to complete a proposal for a replacement scheme to be put to the HSE by March 2021. From that point activities will develop further operational detail with a finalised scheme completed by June 2022 ready for full operational launch on 1 April 2023.

Key Benefits

A new sector led alternative to statutory licensing to provide the following key benefits across the UK:

  • More providers engage with a single scheme resulting in achieving enhanced industry standards of delivery
  • Reduced costs for providers due to economies of scale and fewer accreditation schemes
  • Continued development of standards and sharing of good practice and lessons learned
  • provides better value to the public purse
  • Support for an expanding sector that contributes to the UK health and wellbeing targets

The key stakeholders of a new sector led alternative to statutory licensing will be:

  • Key institutional users and commissioners of adventurous activities including schools, colleges, youth organisations and third sector bodies, as well as parents and guardians.
  • HSE
  • Health, Education and Environment across devolved governments
  • The tourism industry will have increased confidence from a new Quality Assurance and Safety scheme

It was noted at our meeting on 28 October that the scheme needs to address public, parents, providers and schools; HSE isn’t the only UK and Devolved Government body we need to collaborate with. Member bodies of Adventure UK across the home Nations have been lobbying for the industry as part of support for a sector hit with Covid 19 restrictions. These relationships will be import ant as we go forward.

Adventure UK have received significant contributions of time and other resource from many member organisations, most significantly the recent offer from MTT. However, the challenges and complexities of developing an industry led scheme within the new, shorter time frame are significant. Especially so in this time of uncertainty for many sectors of our Industry. Whilst not a cash rich sector, many organisations and individuals have given, and continue to give freely of their time to achieve this. Adventure UK will require continued input of HSE staff time and advice at least to develop the proposal through to production and analysis of public consultation and for taking forward to Parliament.