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National Federation of Bridleway Associations
Founded as the Federation of Pennine Bridleways Associations 1989
The Barn, Mankinholes
Todmorden OL14 6HR
12 Chapel Walk
Lowton St Mary’s, Warrington
Cheshire WA3 1EE
Mary Jo Pinder
4 Glendale Close
Burnley BB11 2RD
Baxenden House, Manchester Road, Baxenden, Accrington BB5 2RU
19 March 2004
Consultation on ‘Use of Mechanically propelled vehicles on right of way’
The National Federation was formed in 1986 as the Federation of Pennine Bridleways Associations. It became a national organisation in 1997. It serves as a contact network for local bridleway groups and individuals, keeping them in touch with national matters that affect their interest, and acting as a forum for consultations such as this.
The NFBA is a member of the Byway and Bridleway Trust Council and has consultee status on the Rights of Way Review Committee.
Information on the above consultation has been circulated to all members and was discussed at the General Meeting on 16 March 2004. This forms the basis of the following response.
1. No member has reported having any problems with lawful recreational use of rights of way by mechanically propelled vehicles. In fact, they report very courteous and considerate treatment by mpv drivers/riders.
Some members complain of damage by mpvs to BOATs, but this appears to occur in certain areas and is not the subject of the present consultation. It does, however, raise questions about the general lack of maintenance of rights of way and how damage by mpvs can be put right. However, it should not be used as an excuse to remove historic rights and dismantle the legal framework of the rights of way network.
|‘. . . in West Berkshire . . . a significant amount of the damage to byways is by lawful vehicular recreational use. . . . We see convoys of licensed vehicles with our own eyes and have to negotiate the damage left behind them on a regular basis. Most of our byways are damaged and unpleasant to ride/walk.’|
‘The government, who purport to want to encourage more use of the countryside, should be prepared to provide sufficient funding to bring into suitable condition all routes for which there is a demonstrable demand.’ (Cheshire)
Members also identify agricultural vehicles as the worst offender when it comes to damaging rights of way, followed a close second by hard-surfacing (concrete or tarmac) of recreational routes to facilitate private vehicular access. Once this happens, the route ceases to have recreational value as it has become a motor road, with all the consequent dangers.
|‘In the North Region (Northumberland, Durham & Cumbria) . . . we do not have a problem with the legitimate use of ROW by responsible riders of MPVs on legal bikes. Any damage that I have observed I am pretty sure has been caused by farm vehicles (tractors & quad bikes) involved in winter feeding of stock, which tends to be very concentrated in a particular area, and other use of quad bikes for shepherding etc. The shooting fraternity use a number of our best moorland bridleways and increase their damaging impact by "improving" them with sharp stone chippings, and of course the game keepers are always about in their Land Rovers.’|
is nothing in this document which mentions the need to address the large
amount of damage made not just to public ways but to roadside verges and
lanes by the use of heavy agricultural vehicles. Many of these vehicles
are a good deal heavier than the heaviest of 4 x 4s. Roadside verges,
often the only sanctuary for horses and walkers, are rendered unusable
for years when hedgecutting and wet weather arrive at the same time.
‘Many landowners and farmers have nice limestoned drives and field entrances, but as soon as they move onto a public right of way it becomes a quagmire.
‘If landowners and farmers were made responsible for repairing the damage they inflict, many of the problems relating to surfacing and use of byways etc. would disappear.’
Members feel that inappropriate use of BOATs should be dealt with through management and voluntary restraint. However, there is a genuine worry that some local authorities already use TROs to avoid maintenance and that many authorities are reluctant to process definitive map modification orders where evidence points to the presence of public vehicular rights. This means that routes have remained inaccessible to horseriders for many years, thus forcing riders onto motor roads.
A secondary problem is the use of rights of way for challenge events and motor rallies (the latter a particular concern in Suffolk, but may well apply to other areas of the country). Again, this is not part of the present consultation, but it does need to be addressed.
2. Members report a growing problem of illegal use of rights of way by motorbikes and quads, and would therefore welcome effective action to deal with this abuse. It has been pointed out that motorbike magazines are encouraging this type of illegal activity.
|‘What riders are most concerned about is that both definitive bridleways and other horse routes are so bedevilled by motorbikes as to be complete no-go areas for horseriders, often for long periods, such as the whole of a summer. A local yard owner was so incensed by the situation when his liveries were totally afraid to venture out for months that he pushed the matter with the local authority and the police. Severe measures were taken - bikes crushed, prosecutions - the motorbikes kept away until the police relaxed; then they were back again.’ (Greater Manchester)|
Illegal motorbikers are putting people’s lives at risk, as well as causing damage, because they travel at high speed to avoid being stopped or recognized, and they do this on the local roads as well as on rights of way and open land. So they present a serious danger to horseriders.
3. Members feel that increasing the network of byways open to all traffic through the definitive map process will not cause any problems with legal recreational use by mpvs. Rather, it will help to spread the load by increasing the accessible network and will improve the network for horseriders and other users.
|‘A better managed and maintained network for all would mean far less conflict and greater enjoyment for all. That can only come about from the restoration of central government funding to highway authorities as was present in the 1990s under the Milestones project. That is what we should be pressing for, not restrictions that I am pretty sure won't work.’|
4. Members feel very strongly that removing public vehicular rights is totally unacceptable and unfair. It is seen as wrong to take rights away from people (and the CROW Act is proposing to extinguish unrecorded bridleway rights as well as vehicular rights) and to discriminate against certain types of users. The proposed cut-off date of one year is unfair and will have serious consequences that have not been fully explored in the present consultation.
We are also opposed to the cut-off date of 2026. If certainty about what public rights exist really is the desired outcome of the CROW Act, ensuring that all rights are properly recorded will achieve that. Once public rights are recorded, then cut-off dates become irrelevant. The government should make the implementation of the Discovering Lost Ways project the priority; at present it seems to be a lost cause.
5. Some members fear that once mpvs have been eliminated, horseriders may well be next in the firing line. There seems to be a marked desire among certain parties to close off the countryside to everyone except walkers. Landowners are already pressing for the right to erect barriers on rights of way to prevent motorbike and 4WD use, and this will inevitably affect horseriding.
|‘In the North York Moors National Park there is a very active ROW officer who has been successful in persuading a number of landowners to dedicate bridleway rights to existing FPs and on new routes. These go onto the definitive map as creation agreements under s25 HA80. The RA is annoyed as this process does not allow for a PI. They have been making continual representations to the authority against this process and I understand the efforts to improve the bridleway network are now to be discontinued.’|
|‘Appropriate barriers or other structures would seem to be the obvious answer. ... Certainly the CLA will be pressing for a clear power to be added to the statute book for structures on ROWs where there is illegal vehicular use, particularly when it is associated with other crime’ (CLA Magazine).|
The Specific Proposals
Proposal 1: Members would welcome effective action to deal with illegal use. We would also like the police to be better educated in rights of way law generally, and prepared to take action in cases of intimidation and aggression towards horseriders by third parties (this can occur on roads as well as on rights of way). We are encouraging our members to report cases of intimidation to the police and to local authority rights of way units.
Prosposal 2: We welcome the proposed revision of Making the Best of Byways and the research on the use of byways open to all traffic. However, the present consultation seems to be pre-empting these two initiatives.
Proposal 3: We do not envisage that this proposal will result in any restricted byways. It is simply window dressing.
Proposal 4: For reasons stated above, we do not support this proposal, and are particularly concerned at the suggestion of a one year cut-off date. We suspect that if the proposal is implemented it will have an extremely adverse effect on the definitive map process and the Discovering Lost Ways initiative, resulting in event longer delays than we experience at present. The Regulatory Impact Assessment has not fully taken into account the effect of the proposal on claims for bridleway rights, and the consequent effect on ridden access using public rights of way. It needs to be remembered that bridleway rights failed to be fully recorded in the 1950s, and that wrong still needs putting right in very many cases.
Proposal 5: We support the undertaking that dmmo application submitted before the cut-off date (which we oppose) will be processed to their conclusion, as will orders already in progress. However, we foresee problems arising over the quality of applications done in a rush to meet the cut-off date, and this will have a knock-on effect on the recording of bridleway rights. Guarantees are need that all applications, however good or bad they may be, are thoroughly investigated by local authorities prior to determination.
We welcome the introduction of the register of applications, but there needs to be recognition that applications should be determined in a reasonable timescale (months, not years). We presume that the register will include all claims already submitted.
We welcome the promise that the rights attached to existing BOATs will not be reviewed or amended.
Proposal 6: The logic of this proposal has taken some understanding. What it appears to be saying is that if a landowner has been relying on public vehicular rights to access property, and those rights are extinguished, then a private easement can be granted (by whom?) to allow him/her the right of access that has been just been taken away. We would have thought that if a landowner had been relying on unrecorded public vehicular rights, then that is evidence of public vehicular rights and these should therefore be recorded on the definitive map. So it would be incumbent on the owner of potentially inaccessible property to submit a claim for a dmmo to secure the public vehicular rights for him/her and everyone else. Which seems a good idea really. So we oppose the suggestion to substitute private easements over public roads.
Proposal 7: The logic of this proposal seems similarly skewed to that of Proposal 6. If public vehicular rights exist but have not been recorded, the only way to do away with them is to make their legitimate use unlawful by removing the right to use historical evidence, and then to make it possible to claim them on the basis of evidence that is very unlikely to exist.
National Federation of Bridleway Associations
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