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British Horse Society makes further response to new Government consultation document on vehicle off-road access

The British Horse Society knows that riders who have to dice with death on the roads feel strongly that they should not have to worry about encountering motor vehicles on public rights of way (PROW). However, many such vehicles on PROW have private access rights and, as the Society understands it, these rights would not be removed by the proposed legislation.

For most riders, the issue is more about damage to the surface than the surprise or, occasionally, danger of meeting a motor vehicle. It would appear that the majority of damage, nationwide on all classes of PROW, derives from the exercise of private rights during the course of necessary activities, such as feeding winter stock, although there are some sites where considerable nuisance is caused by a small minority of the public.

The BHS is concerned that the many 'lost ways' which need to be claimed if riders and horse-drawn vehicle drivers are to fully benefit from their historical inheritance, may remain unclaimed if it can no longer call on the assistance of the motorised users to help with the necessary research. Most riders have little time to spare for the essential time-consuming research in county record offices and other archives that needs to be undertaken during the next 21 years to meet the 2026 cut-off date for historical claims.

Government has put in place new legislation that can be used to deal with illegal motor vehicles on PROW, but this has not had time to be much used. Initial cases are coming before the courts and it is hoped that the powers available may prove to be effective in curbing illegal usage. The Society welcomes the proposal in the consultation document to make these powers better known, as this should provide immediate relief in many cases.

In addition, the BHS is surprised that the results of research, commissioned by the Government into the use of Byways Open to All Traffic (BOATS), has not had a chance to be considered before any new legislation is contemplated. The Society will continue to work with other user groups before making a final submission on the consultation document.


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Updated: October 2005.