Riders in Buckinghamshire have expressed concern at a bid by trail bikers to access a large number of bridleways in the county.

Buckinghamshire County Council has received 20 applications to reclassify bridleways as byways open to all traffic (BOATS), which are likely to attract not only motorcyclists but also four-wheel drive enthusiasts.

County bridleways officer Viv Lynch says: “Reclassification of this number of bridleways would have a very serious impact on riders in the area. While we appreciate the contribution trail bikers make to equestrian events, we are concerned about the safety implications of sharing bridleways with motorbikes. We hope that some form of compromise can be arrived at.”

The applications now have to go for consultation with user groups, including the British Horse Society and local landowners and occupiers, before being put to the local authority rights of way committee.

“If the application is not accepted, the applicant can appeal, and if it is approved, anyone who does not agree can object to the legal order, and the matter can be referred on to a public inquiry so it is a long process,” explains Definitive Maps officer Margaret Freeman.

“The rights of way committee only meets about three times a year, so it is unlikely that any action will be taken until 2004 at the earliest.”

Read the full story in this week’s Horse & Hound (21 August), or click here to subscribe and enjoy Horse & Hound delivered to your door every week.