Have your say on vehicle use of off-road tracks: riders urged to take part in consultation

  • Equestrians have been urged to have a say in a Government consultation on whether off-road vehicles should be allowed to continue using unsurfaced countryside tracks.

    Defra’s online consultation asks whether recreational vehicles should still be allowed to access off-tarmac routes used for riding and carriage driving.

    H&H reported in 2017 that a survey carried out by British Horse Society-affiliated bridleways group Peak Horsepower suggested that 4×4 vehicles and motorbikes were causing problems for riders across the country.

    Three-quarters of respondents said their off-road routes are also used by motor vehicles, and 90% of these said these create problems, such as ground damage and frightening horses.

    Other issues raised include the fact some routes are not wide enough for vehicles to pass horses safely, that visibility is limited by blind bends, and motorised vehicles are on routes not designated for their use.

    Peak Horsepower has since been calling for a change in the law, to ensure the 3,000 miles of routes that are currently unclassified, and so can be used by anyone, become restricted byways, which would ban motor vehicles.

    A spokesman for the group said this week that the current consultation covers a range of countryside-related issues, but the questions on off-roading are “of real importance to equestrians”.

    Have your say online

    “Riders and carriage drivers everywhere are having to share their off-tarmac routes with recreational motor vehicles which damage surfaces and put horses and riders at risk,” she said.

    Peak Horsepower chair Charlotte Gilbert added: “We and other organisations have been pressing for a long time for a review of the legislation governing the use of unsealed countryside tracks by 4x4s and motor bikes where such use causes damage and prevents access to other classes of legitimate user. We are very pleased indeed that the Government has at last decided to ask the public whether there should be new legislation on off-roading.

    “We urge all equestrians to take part in the consultation and to answer questions 14 to 17 in the online questionnaire’.

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