Government Calls for Public Thoughts on ‘Off-Roading’ using Unsurfaced Countryside Tracks
The government is asking the public whether 4x4s and motorbikes should be allowed to drive on unsealed tracks in the countryside
As part of its response to the Glover landscapes review, Defra is asking the public whether ‘off-roading’ should be allowed to continue on unsurfaced countryside tracks, ie off-tarmac riding and driving routes.
The consultation covers many other issues to do with the countryside but the questions about off-roading are of real importance to equestrians.
Riders and carriage drivers everywhere are having to share their off-tarmac routes with recreational motor vehicles which damage surfaces and put horses and riders at risk.
Defra’s online consultation (questions 14 to 17) asks the public whether off-roading on unsealed tracks should be restricted or stopped in the National Parks and the Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty or in the countryside more widely.
In 2015 Peak Horsepower, a group representing horse riders in the Peak District, carried out a national survey of all bridleway groups in England asking them whether off-roading was having an impact on riders and if so what kind of impact. The survey was sent to 1057 equestrian organisations in England. There were 271 responses from 202 organisations. The survey found that off-roading was causing danger for equestrians nationwide.
The survey also found that three-quarters of respondents said that their offroad riding routes are being used by 4X4s and motorbikes, while 72 per cent said that the noise of offroad vehicles is frightening horses. Suggesting that bridle routes are becoming hazardous in most cases.
Chair of Peak Horsepower Charlotte Gilbert says:
We and other organisations have been pressing for a long time for a review of the legislation governing the use of unsealed countryside tracks by 4x4s and motor bikes where such use causes damage and prevents access to other classes of legitimate user. We are very pleased indeed that the government has at last decided to ask the public whether there should be new legislation on off-roading. We urge all equestrians to take part in the consultation and to answer questions 14 to 17 in the online questionnaire’.
The Defra consultation and online questionnaire are at Government response to the Landscapes Review – Defra – Citizen Space.