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Horse riders push for access to coastline

The British Horse Society (BHS) is campaigning for riders to be included in government plans to make England’s coastline more accessible to the public.

The creation of a permanent right of way round the coast was part of the Labour Party’s manifesto in 2004, and listed as a priority for DEFRA in 2005.

On 2 March, government agency Natural England submitted recommendations to DEFRA that would allow walkers free access to the coast, but advised that access for riders, cyclists and other users should be dealt with “on a local level”.

“If the government proceeds with Natural England’s proposals, it will be missing a golden opportunity to open the coast to all members of the public,” said Mark Weston of the BHS. “It will miss the chance to promote activity and a healthy lifestyle, and make the countryside accessible to all.”

Working as part of the Equestrian Access Forum, the BHS has teamed up to lobby with the British Canoe Union, British Caving Association, British Mountaineering Council, Central Council for Physical Recreation, Cyclists Touring Club (CTC), International Mountain Biking Association UK, the Open Spaces Society, the Ramblers’ Association and the country’s Youth Hostel Association.

There is 4,000km of coast around England, 70% (3,000km) of which has recognised public access — but within that, some sections are eroded or impossible to follow. Of that 3,000km, riders and cyclists are given access to only 95km — 16% of the total.

Read this news story in full in today’s Horse & Hound (15 March, ’07)

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