Clayton Fredericks in access dispute with Ministry of Defence

  • Event rider Clayton Fredericks is to meet with the land agents for Salisbury Plain and local police to try to resolve a dispute over access.

    Since buying his yard on the edge of Salisbury Plain 10 years ago, Clayton has used a road owned by the Ministry of Defence (MoD) to access the Plain for hacking.

    But the road is not a public right of way and over the past two months a land warden working for Defence Training Estates (DTE), which manages the military and public use of Salisbury Plain, has filed eight reports of Clayton riding on it without authorisation.

    “This is half a mile of road that we have always used — they are being absolutely pedantic,” said Clayton. “We don’t go on the grass and don’t interfere with military training.”

    A ban would force riders on to the main B3098.

    “Three years ago, I had a nine-year-old advanced event horse who had been placed at Badminton killed on that road,” said Clayton. “Common sense should prevail here.”

    MoD police have spoken to Clayton about the matter and are arranging a meeting to discuss a permit or licence.

    An MoD police spokesman told H&H: “MoD land is a dangerous place to be when military exercises are being carried out. Unrestricted access is not possible.

    “It is possible to get a licence to allow additional access to the Plain, which is subject to agreement between any individual and the MoD.”

    But Lt Col Nigel de Foubert from DTE told H&H that Clayton is riding where he is not allowed — and the MoD is not prepared to issue a licence.

    “We’ve had this argument with him in the past and we’ve been very patient,” he said.

    “Mr Fredericks does not and never has had a right of way. This is a training area for low-flying jets and helicopters. Pilots know where the bridleways are and riders need to stay on them.”

    Lt Col de Foubert said the public can use 350km of bridleways when the military is training, and a further 150km when it is not.

    “We believe this is sufficient. We have a duty of care as Salisbury Plain is a dangerous area if you don’t abide by the by-laws,” he said, adding: “We are not prepared to give Mr Fredericks a licence because we do not want him there.”

    This article was first published in Horse & Hound (27 August, ’09)

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