Any trail building volunteer groups working with the FC?

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  • Any trail building volunteer groups working with the FC?
  • slowjo

    We (Timber) have been asked to sign what amounts to a waiver for the FC, accepting liability if we use private vehicles on their land. The understanding is that our liability insurance (BCTV I think) covers us for any TP claims. It seems however that the BCTV policy does not cover us, nor do our private motor policies. Has anyone else come across this one and how did you resolve it?


    To add a bit of detail to slowjo’s post. The FC are asking us to sign a permit for vehicle access to Thetford Forest so we can drive our own cars (to transport people and tools) down fire roads to where we (as volunteers) will work on the trail network. The permit contains the following “interesting” conditions…

    (c) The permit holder will pay compensation or make good to the Forest Management director’s satisfaction all damage to Forestry Commission property caused by the exercise of this permission…

    (d) The permit holder will indemnify the Forestry Commission against all claims arising from any loss or damage, injury or death to Forestry Commission employees and any third party arising from the exercise of this permission. The permit holder will during the period of this permission maintain an insurance policy with a reputable insurance company to an amount not less than £2 million in respect of one claim. The amount of such insurance shall not limit the liability of the permit holder to the Forestry Commission…

    (j) You must ensure you have sufficient and appropriate insurance in place in respect of the use of your vehicle on Forestry Commission property. If in doubt check with your insurers as your normal motor insurance may not provide appropriate cover in these circumstances.

    I’m guessing that most trail groups use BTCV/Zurich for their insurance. This covers us for public liability but doesn’t cover the use of our own vehicles on Forest Commission land because they are insured for use on the road.

    Back to the questions. Do any volunteer trail groups use their own cars on FC land? Anyone signed an FC vehicle access permit? Anyone thought about the insurance implications of this?

    You might want to take a look at Singletraction


    Cannot see it as being a problem – merely the commission covering their arses against you driving without insurance – there should be no reason why your normal insurance would not cover you on private land – same as driving round morrisons car park really.


    This doesn’t appear to be an issue at Gisburn Forest, which involves a half mile drive to the dig site on forest rough track. I’ve been a couple of times and there has been no requirement to sign any permit or liability agreement specifically regarding driving on FC land.

    With regards to my own car insurance, for the number of occasions I’ll be driving at 10mph half a mile down a forest road, whether or not I’m covered, I’ll run the gauntlet. 🙂


    I personally haven’t signed anything like this for vehicle usage in Dalby whilst trailbuilding. If it’s something the Chairman and secretary have sorted out in advance then all’s well and good. We currently drive along part of the red route trail to reach our current digging area but it’s not as if we’re doing WRC style driving. All the FC seem to ask us is that we don’t attain speeds above 15mph.

    We work with FE quite a bit (SingletrAction – I’m the daft sod currently holding the dubious honour of “Chairman”). We have not entered into any sort of agreement akin to the one you mention, for any of the places that we “work” i.e. Dalby, Wharncliffe, Stainburn etc. That’s to the best of my knowledge (stuff might have happened before me but I doubt it). Also, whilst I know volunteers at Dalby and Wharncliffe use forest roads, we don’t at Stainburn.

    However, FE is far from consistent across its areas so that doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t have been asked. More likley that either you have someone “zealous” or we have people that aren’t 😉

    I’m not legal but I deal with a bit of this sort of stuff at work. If you want proper advice ask a solicitor for some pro bono (good luck 😉 I’d make the following comments:

    (c) looks like a clause for contractors, I’d ask them to remove it. In all reality what can the odd personal vehicle do in terms of damage compared to a forest road?

    (d) I wouldn’t sign up to anything of the sort if it were me. I have seen a few instances on certain sites where they bang out a badly drafted and inappropriate document (e.g. a commercial operator’s contract for a bunch of volunteers doing trail building) and say “sign it”. I have invariably advised people not to. I won’t sign up to anything that puts personal liability on me and have no authority to do so on behalf of any of the members. You’re on their site, should be aware of their rules and agree to abide by them, just like their employees. That way you’re following appropriate procedures and other than that I think it’s unreasonable to place such burdens on voluntary groups. Especially when we’re helping them to reach their own goals (which are luckily similar to some of our own).

    (j) Doesn’t seem so bad so would roll with it.

    Like I said above, getting these things is usually because someone has got (possibly) the wrong end of the stick and has used the wrong tool (the person sending it out probably doesn’t grasp the legal or financial implications – it’s probably the last one they used in a vaguely similar situation, or that they got when they asked a colleague for one).

    FC are supposed to have an MoU with IMBA (or has that expired?) and pointing the person at that, explaining the implications of complying with their clauses (cash, time, hassle for little / no appreciable benefit etc) and why it’s inappropriate to constrain volunteers giving freely of their time to help themselves and other people enjoy the forest for recreational use might persuade them to drop / amend.

    Then again, it might not.

    You might be able to get constructuve advice from Ian Warby at CTC or from IMBA (I’ve talked to Kieran Foster quite a lot). NB: quite a lot of the IMBA peeps are FC employees etc so there *might* be issues for them (although Kie is not).

    Hope that helps. If you want to get in touch and discuss further feel free (timsellors[at]googlemail[dot]com). You guys sent me the OGB manual so it’s all good back scratching 😉


    Thanks alot Cheeky. Really useful feedback – we owe you one 😉

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