The British Horse Society unveiled plans to create a national rights of way database at its AGM last Thursday (23 June). Initially, the data collated will be available to head office and local access officers, but the society hopes members will be able to use it in the future.
Different digital maps will hold such information as accident hot spots, location of wind farms, access points for main roads and even obstructions such as padlocked gates or parked vehicles.
The society has already bought a master digital map software package costing £1,000. It is now seeking funding to purchase an additional £20,000-worth of software with which to input and monitor the finer details.
Everybody from police to BHS members would be approached to provide relevant information, according to Henry Whittaker, an access and rights of way executive who is leading the project.
He said: “The Countryside Agency has expressed an interest in funding the project and there are various grants available for us.”
No date has been set for the database to be up and running, but the BHS “is committed to taking this forward as quickly as possible”, according to chief executive Graham Cory.
“The database will allow us to spot trends; for instance, where there are significantly more accidents on roads surfaced with SMA or at particular road crossings,” said Cory, adding that he hopes it will help the society gain political leverage in its push for a joined-up network of bridleways.
A total of 35 riders and 145 horses were killed in traffic accidents during the past four years, according to statistics collated by the BHS. A further 239 riders and 236 horses were injured during that period.