In advance of the Second reading of the Natural Environment and Rural
Communities (NERC) Bill the Motor Cycle Industry (MCI) has today written
to very member of the House of Lords to try and prevent a catastrophe to
off-road motorcycle activity.
The Natural Environment and Rural Communities (NERC) Bill that received
its third reading in the House of Commons last week proposes the removal
of vehicular access from any existing public Right of Way (RoW), if
access to that RoW is not already recorded on a county's definitive map
and statement as a 'Byway Open to all Traffic' (BOAT).
Parliament has already made the decision to drastically reduce motorised
use of Britain's unsurfaced road network. If this unwelcome legislation
is approved by the Lords it will result in all motor vehicles including
trail bikes and cars being banned from large numbers of 'green lanes',
on the meagre five percent of England and Wales public rights of way
that can currently be used.
The Government has caved in to pressure led by extremist ramblers who
already have exclusive use of 95% of rights of way. They have gained
seven percent of the country under the newly granted Right to Roam law
and they continue to seek to extend their rights of access to all our
The proposed legislation will have a limited effect on the perceived
problem of illegal and noisy motorcycling and if it is passed it will
only have a negative effect on the law-abiding people who responsibly
enjoy our countryside.
MCI's Craig Carey-Clinch said; " The new law demonstrates a lack of
respect for the law-abiding motorcyclist and will mainly serve to
penalise and criminalise many because of the inappropriate and
irresponsible behaviour of a few.
"Illegal use will continue, and use of the remaining legitimate routes
will increase until they are saturated. Other routes will become
fragmented and the character of them will change. The very character of
our ancient RoW network is reliant on vehicular use which helps to keep
them open and of a suitable width. Ramblers can only create footpaths,
vehicle use preserves the historic appearance of RoWs and stops them
from becoming overgrown and inaccessible.
"This is another example of intolerance towards minority interests.
Problems have been exaggerated, attempts to enter meaningful dialogue
have been rebuffed and alternative strategies rejected. The rambler and
environmental lobby has weaved blatant dislike and an intolerance of
alternative lifestyles into the language of reason, in a successful
attempt to present a case which is out of proportion to the real
problem. The voice of reasonable and co-operative users is drowned out."