BMF Condemns restrictions on Rights of Way

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Eamonn Townsend

BMF Condemns restrictions on Rights of Way

Postby Eamonn Townsend » Sun May 29, 2005 12:00 am

The British Motorcyclists Federation (BMF), Britain's largest riders' rights organisation, today condemned Government moves to cap Britain's ancient Rights of Way network.

Part six of the Natural Environment and Rural Communities Bill announced last week, will, if enacted, extinguish any existing public Right of Way (RoW) for mechanically propelled vehicles if a RoW is not already recorded on the county's definitive map and statement.

The BMF's Land Access spokesman, Richard Olliffe, said: "Rights of Way are often ancient roads that are legitimately enjoyed by motorcyclists and motorists alike. Progress made following the DEFRA (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs) consultation on the use of mechanically propelled vehicles on these roads has gone by the board. The Bill appears to contain provisions that will allow a period of grace to allow Byways Open To All Traffic (BOAT) claims already registered to be processed, but let's face it, this is simply a cynical attempt to restrict access by legitimate users."

Dr Leon Mannings, the BMF Chairman said: "The Government appears confused on the issue. Other parts of the Bill, such as the intention to set up a Commission for Rural Communities, set out to address social disadvantage and economic under-performance. However, an economic impact survey, instigated by the BMF affiliated Trail Riders Fellowship, indicates that RoW use by motorcyclists has a positive effect on the rural economy, something that has apparently been conveniently forgotten."

In summary, the BMF is concerned that there will be:

  • An absolute cap on the expansion of the existing Rights of Way network instead of a measured programme based on route sustainability.

  • The lack of a system to ensure implementation of past/current enforcement legislation, let alone tabling proposals for further enforcement.

  • A restriction of network without ensuring other provision for use at a time when RoW use is increasing. This will lead to illegal and therefore unregulated use.

The BMF has the written to DEFRA raising its concerns and will be supporting the Land Access and Recreation Association (LARA) in their actions over this issue.

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