XC race – SSSI?

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  • XC race – SSSI?
  • ferrals
    Member

    Just wondering if anyone has organised an XC race in a SSSI?

    I’ve been trying to find somewhere local-ish to hold a race for a few years but everywhere suitable has had issues and I’ve failed. I’ve asked NRW about this particualr forest in the past and one of the reasons they cited for no was it being a triple S I and we needed to cut some new tracks. However I’m looking at a different section where all the tracks already exist.  Before I re-ask it would be good to know if people have held races in SSSI, so I have evidence it’s not a total no-go

    dpfr
    Member

    Never done bikes but have organised orienteering events in SSSIs. You need to understand why it’s an SSSI. Some of the reasons are very seasonal so if you use it outside a sensitive time, you might be OK

    The top woods of the cheddar challenge are sssi and that used to run every year, so it’s possible, but as dpfr said.

    ferrals
    Member

    Cheers both, from what I can see its an archeological and biological SSSI, but I know the archeology is in a differnet area. Might be worth another email to them

    There will be very specific reason, right down to which species.

    ninfan
    Member

    As above – depends on the reasons for SSSI status, also likely to depend on season (eg if ground nesting birds are one of the reasons for designation) and what assurances/plans you have to ensure decommissioning of the route (ie. stop people coming back and continuing to use it at other times of year)

    ferrals
    Member

    I’ve had a look into it and its a SSSI for being semi-natural woodland and karst.

    It turns out half of it is also an SAC for: Tilio-Acerion forests of slopes, screes and ravines (ash woodland)

    so it looks like its the actual woods themselves, with there being quite rare plants in the ground cover

    I’m not sure if this makes it more or less likely for it to be viable. The funny thing is they felled large chunks of it recently which must have far higher impact than a bike race!

    deadkenny
    Member

    Not sure it’s an SSSI, but Gorrick did a race at Barossa (Old Dean, edge of Swinley) and Natural England went ape shit about it. Mostly claiming people were uncovering trails post ride, apparently in the middle of the night(!).

    Anyway, deal was the trails had to be covered up and unrideable after use, but due to the issues they’re banned from there now.

    Places that are on private land closed to public you might have more success with for ensuring it’s not used other than for races.

    ferrals
    Member

    Think its probably one to skip, I was thinking of using existing trails that walkers use (not footpaths just open access) so couldnt be covered over.

    Ah well.

    steve_b77
    Member

    It’s not bike related but with the right permissions in place I’ve managed a major de-vegetation project that removed a load of trees from a SSSI.

    A bike race should be easy.

    whitestone
    Member

    From Wikipedia (usual caveats apply) but there’s an SSSI on the family farm and this is a reasonable summary. The “interest” is the reason why the SSSI applies to that location.

    If a proposed activity would not affect the interest or is beneficial to it, then the conservation body will issue a “consent” allowing it to be carried out without further consultation. If it would be harmful, the conservation body may issue consent subject to conditions or refuse the application. If consent in writing is not given the operation must not proceed. Conditions may cover any relevant aspect of the proposed operation and may, for example, limit its timing, location or intensity.

    Premier Icon OwenP
    Subscriber

    So it’s (part) SAC and SSSI, for woodland habitat and associated ground flora, as well as geological interest?

    My experience is more with Natural England than NRW, but I’d suggest that your move away from cutting new tracks to using existing ones would be viewed more positively. That is, as long as the existing tracks are sanctioned and accepted, not “cheeky trails” that NRW think are bad for the site.

    If you want to keep going with the plan, I’d be braced for taking on the required impact assessment work to support your request, which might involve some fairly involved ecological survey work if NRW’s own survey data isn’t very up to date. NRW won’t want to undertake the development of your plans themselves for free, so it’ll be up to you to give them the right standard of information to demonstrate your event won’t be damaging and give them the confidence to sign it off. I’m guessing NRW are also the landowner?

    Singletrack through woodland etc doesn’t seem that destructive, if very carefully routed to avoid the most sensitive areas and times of year (which you will have worked out based on surveys) but probably also need to consider first aid access to the course by 4×4, spectator access, where the start/finish race village will be, that sort of thing. A track record of having run “tidy” events probably wouldn’t hurt!

    Good luck!

    big_n_daft
    Member

    You need to find a friendly ecologist who likes doing pro bono stuff

    They will talk the same language as NRW, and give you a better idea of what is possible

    Premier Icon boxelder
    Subscriber

    Just apply and see what they say. They’ll know straight away that you’re no expert and therefore won’t feel threatened and will likely be keen to explain the situation. If they say no, so be it. Ground flora often benefits from trampling/disturbance though, so you never know.

    It being a Special Area of Conservation as well makes life potentially quite a bit more difficult – designated at the European level.

    The aspects you state as the reason for designation are based around woodland habitats and I suspect putting cycle traffic through it, with the potential for it cutting up if wet, would not play well – but as per the above, it’s worth asking.

    big_n_daft
    Member

    Personally I think they’ll be more worried about soil enrichment from dog shit and impacting the surface water drainage than anything else. That and encouraging people to ride in areas they are trying to keep quiet

    ferrals
    Member

    Cheers all. Re. The dog crap, it’s a massively popular dog walking area so it’s not like a race will bring an influx.

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