There was an unexpected windfall for riders in the Chancellor of the Exchequer’s Autumn Statement on 29 November.

Riders will share £2m of funding for new bridleways under a scheme run by Natural England, George Osborne revealed, as part of a £25m project to increase rural tourism.

In the Paths for Communities Scheme, due to be launched in April 2012, local projects can bid for £1m funding in 2012 and the same the following year.

And all the projects must be open to riders.

British Horse Society (BHS) director of access Mark Weston said: “This is a hugely encouraging result.

“Our BHS regional representatives will work with the riders and communities in their areas to pinpoint areas which would benefit from this scheme.”

Riders currently can only use 22 per cent of rights of way and the BHS has campaigned for many years for riders to have the same access to off-road routes as walkers and cyclists.

Pippa Langford of Natural England said the intention is to improve tourism by increasing the number of paths with “higher rights” – those open to riders and cyclists as well as walkers.

This news story was first published in the current issue of H&H (8 December 2011)