Access All Areas – Got a minute or two?

by Dave Anderson 11


As part of this “greenest” Government’s bonfire of regulation its Red Tape Challenge is asking for views on Environment.

As they say:

“These regulations aim to conserve vulnerable or rare species, habitats and wildlife sites. They also control access to footpaths and national parks.”

Pretty important we feel you’ll agree. So it’s somewhat worrying to see the following options to attract the ‘outraged of Berkshire’ views:

Should we scrap them altogether?


Can we make their enforcement less burdensome? How?

If you want to see rights of way law protected, it’s probably worth commenting on the site.

It might be worth mentioning widening the right to roam to other outdoor users too.

You may even want to point out why protecting National Parks, countryside and wildlife are important while you’re there

Make yourself be heard!

Comments (11)

  1. Why don’t you make a petition on the HM Gov Petition website e.g.

  2. There are only 163 pieces of legislation dealing with this subject. That seems reasonable. Making a petition might raise the profile of this exercise, but this ‘red tape challenge’ is where views will be collected. 163! A greater effect could be wrought by slimming tax and banking law and leaving the countryside alone.

  3. That’s true. Not a valid reason for missing an opportunity to press for ‘Scottish’ rights though.

  4. Can we make their enforcement less burdensome? How?

  5. By the time any laws actually come into effect, I will be at least 30 years older (it’s hardly a top priority…. be realistic… next Gov in power will change the policy again… ).

    I don’t want to be that age, look back and say “I wish I could have ridden those trails / paths when I was much younger / fitter / etc”.

    I’m not going to wait around for that – cheeky trails is the only practical way…

  6. I’m pretty sure I don’t understand the subject anywhere near well enough. I do think I understand though that the “red tape” in question is a lot more involved and covers a MUCH bigger scope than whether “we” can ride on footpaths/open land.

    I have added a comment on the site to basically oppose any diminishing of the protection that the various regs under question provide cover for. I have raised the issue of “right to roam” but have accepted that it is probably a different (but related) debate to what is going on here.

  7. Sympathies with the ‘cheeky trails’ view, and totally agree that we need Scottish/Swedish/Finnish access legislation in England and Wales… but with the Red Tape challenge and the potentially catastrophic changes to planning law, there are real and immediate issues. Mountain bikers need to be building bridges with walkers and other countryside users, not alienating them.

  8. It would be far easier, instead to legalise MTB use on PRoW’s, but to de-criminalise it (even though it’s not a criminal offence).

    As speaker2animals mentions, it’s a far too complex area (if only there was a ‘Biking on PRoWs’ Act!) – and although not as many as the 163 acts referenced in the link, it’s in my estimation only 12-15 instead – it would take a very long time indeed to extract each section from each act for the purposes we’re interested in.

    Thinking out loud, so bear with me, one possbile but flawed solution could be: –

    1) Each access authority make a byelaw authorising use of pedal cycles on every route marked on the definitive map as a Public Footpath (then amend the 1980 Highways Act in the meantime)

    2) Keep the provisions of Section 28 of the Road Traffic Act (1988), and – probably in that Section – amend / insert a provision that such a byelaw isn’t contrary to not making it otherwise “convenient use of the way”

    3) To absolve landowners rights and responsibilities under them, you could amend various sections of the two Occupiers’ Liability Acts and transfer liability to the access / relevant authority. This would need greater central government funding

    4) Due to the transition of ownership of the path as regards depth, you could increase the access authorities responsibilities / ownership, probably by virtue of Section 47 of the National Parks and Access to the Countryside Act 1949. This MAY need additional funding by the relevant authority.

    Put simply, this would mean the relevant / access authority now owns the path (and a bit more of the land itself) and holds the requisite responsibilities so it’s not now trespass against the holder of the land, and as the byelaw decriminalises use by bikes (it would still be illegal as such, but there would be zero consequence – it’s a short cut to making it legal). It’s basically telling the landowner bikes will now use this path but you won’t have to pay for anything and any problems are now the relevant / access authority

    The relevant / access authority may need help with more funding to deal with additional maintenance, and would also need to cover any subsequent insurance claims and additional staff to cope with it all.

    Not that this would be problem-free, as most landowners would welcome their not having any responsibilities for the paths, wouldn’t like bikes interfering with agricultural practices, and I’m not sure how to resolve this short of fencing off the paths with costs / losses having to be covered by the authority.

    There would also have to be exceptions, for example where you physically couldn’t ride a bike along (and yes, there are some!) and also sensitive environmental / historic / other factors.

    As in insider looking out, then erm back in again, or something … I’d be very wary indeed of changing legislation on a whim to suit all sort of groups with – lets be honest – different agendas. The red tape challenge seems to suggest you could abolish vast swathes of it with no consequence.

    p.s. sorry this post is so long 🙂

  9. Have to say that “I’d be very wary indeed of changing legislation on a whim to suit all sort of groups with – lets be honest – different agendas. The red tape challenge seems to suggest you could abolish vast swathes of it with no consequence…” is very is ” MTBers ought to be making alliances with other users, walkers etc..” It would also help if MTBers were also allowed to use paths/trails over access land…

  10. Oops, I forgot to mention access land. Generally speaking access land is usually classified as SSSI land and is more sensitive to use. However, the bits of access land I keep my beady eye on are fairly well used by bikes and I can genuinely say I’ve not really noticed any adverse impact, but then again I’m not an ecologist / statistician / etc

    The only bit of the CROW act that excludes bikes is schedule 2 section 1a which excludes people who “drives or rides any vehicle other than an invalid carriage as defined by section 20(2) of the Chronically Sick and Disabled Persons Act 1970, or a pedal cycle as defined by whatever the Act is – my addition”

    Or you could add to the proposed byelaw, by adding after “Public Footpath” – “or any other track / path on land as defined by section 1 of CROW”, which would reassure the landowners that bikes on access land will at least keep to sheep tracks / etc.

    Speaking of which, I remember a pre-CROW report from snowdonia national park that something like 85% of moorland walkers kept to tracks. Not surprising as walking across knee-high heather gets knackering, I’d imagine if it was repeated with bikes it’d be even higher

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