BMF get heavy on Rights of Way

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BMF get heavy on Rights of Way

Postby Eamonn » Thu Feb 09, 2006 7:51 am

THE BEGINNING OF THE END?

The BMF has undertaken one of it's heaviest letter writing campaigns ever in lobbying MPs and Lords as the Natural Environment and Rural Communities Bill (NERC Bill) goes through its House of Lords Committee stage.

If passed, the Bill will restrict trail users to solely those rights of way (RoW) that are officially recorded on what is known as 'definitive maps.' This means that many unrecorded legitimate ancient RoWs will be unavailable to vehicular traffic and further, the BMF warns that this could become part of a bigger plan to restrict use of ALL minor roads in National Parks.

While supporting the Bill's basic aims of clarifying where vehicles are permitted, the BMF say the Bill will do nothing to prevent nuisance-use (almost all of which is already illegal under current legislation) of byways or common land. All that the new legislation will mean is that legitimate law-abiding citizens are denied motorised access to the countryside say the BMF.

In restating its policy on land access the BMF again called for:-

Better policing of our existing laws rather than banning all vehicular use.
A RoW policy that will allow access to a proper connected network - not the broken routes we have now.
A RoW network based on sustainability criteria as proposed by the Land Access and Recreation Association & Trail Riders Fellowship and already discussed with the Department for Rural Affairs (Defra).
Re-activating the Government's currently suspended 'Discovering Lost Ways' project.
A Government policy that would actively encourage the creation of 'recreational sites', recognising that this would likely go some way to reduce the load on the RoW network.

The BMF also welcomes the view of the CCPR (Central Council of Physical Recreation) that the Bill would have unintentional side-effects in restricting access to remote walking, climbing and river areas by those using motor vehicles to access them. 'The removal of vehicular rights from roads not currently shown on highway authority records, will deny recreational opportunities to thousands' says the CCPR.

Claims that motor vehicles damage byways are often exaggerated as a way of justify closure say the BMF. The majority of byways are in good condition and well able to sustain long-term use, in particular, by motorcycles. In some cases say the BMF; byways are only usable at all because trail riding motorcyclists are maintaining them!

Illegal use is the real problem say the BMF, but that those wishing to further restrict a law-abiding minority have ignored this. Walkers already have access to a network 20 times the size of the byway network, but this doesn't seem to be enough.

This is a skewed view of the rights of individuals say the BMF. Some people think nothing of polluting the planet in a 4x4 driving to their favourite beauty spot, but object if someone wants to continue that journey on a legitimate byway.

BMF spokesman Jeff Stone said: "This Bill is only the start for those who wish to see the legitimate use of motorcycles banned from our county side - both off and on tarmac. Moves by the Council for the Preservation for Rural England (CPRE) to persuade the Department of Transport into finally producing the 'Guidance for Quiet Lanes' may seem innocuous, but this could well contain ideas such as blanket 20mph speed limits or the use of 'Traffic Regulation Orders' to ban motor vehicles from such Quiet Lanes. This could spell the beginning of the end for rural motorcycling."

It is well documented that motorcyclists make a substantial contribution to the rural economy and it is short-sited to restrict people further. Above all it is an example of unnecessary legislation pandering of the demands of the influential vocal to the detriment of the responsible trail user say the BMF.

BMF Government Relations Executive Richard Olliffe went further and said: "The BMF continues to question the Government's 'Right to

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BMF get heavy on Rights of Way

Postby laxtons » Mon Feb 26, 2007 10:25 am


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