An interesting amendment from the pressure group Gleam to the Environment Bill.
Proposed amendment Section 7, Environmental Improvement Plan. To assist in informing the Environmental Improvement Plan, the Secretary of State will carry out a public consultation on whether driving a motor vehicle for recreational purposes on unsealed tracks in the countryside, in particular in protected landscapes, should continue to be permitted.
Explanation of amendment.
The Natural Environment and Rural Communities Act 2006 protected footpaths and bridleways from use and damage by recreational motor vehicles but it left unprotected a further 3000 miles of countryside tracks. These are the nation’s green lanes. They are being used and damaged by 4x4s, motor bikes and quad bikes being driven for recreational purposes. This amendment is the first step in closing the loophole in the NERC Act which is permitting environmental damage being done to green lanes. The amendment does not bring into question the rights of landowners or residents, the drivers of essential motor vehicles or people with disabilities who use mobility scooters.
The amendment was introduced by Lord Bradshaw.
My Lords, the stated purpose of the Environment Bill is to improve the natural environment and the 2019 Glover review of the national parks and areas of outstanding natural beauty that called for radical change in the way we protect our landscape. The review stressed the need for us to take urgent steps to recover and enhance nature. One thing that is causing damage to the natural environment and to our fragile and precious landscapes is that 4×4 vehicles, motorbikes and quad bikes are allowed to be driven for purely recreational purposes on unsealed tracks all over the countryside, including in national parks and areas of outstanding natural beauty. The only reason this is allowed to happen is because the law as it stands states that a countryside track, whatever it may be, which has been used in the past by horsedrawn carts, carries a right of way for any kind of modern motor vehicle.
Parliament attempted to deal with this problem in 2006 in the passage of the Natural Environment and Rural Communities Act. It put a stop to the historic use of horsedrawn carts, giving rise to the use of cars and motorbikes on footpaths and bridleways, but it left unprotected over 3,000 miles of other tracks in the countryside that have no right of way classification. These are the country’s green lanes. They are all open to use and abuse by recreational motor vehicles, and as a result, great damage is being done, even on the high fells. The amendment I will seek to table does not ask for an immediate change in the law, and if passed, it would require the Secretary of State to return to the business that was left unfinished by the Natural Environment and Rural Communities Act and to carry out a public consultation on whether the loophole left behind by that Act should be closed.
The National Farmers Union & Country Landowners Association’s suggestion to give farmers powers to close and divert public rights of way where they cross fields containing livestock isn’t the brightest idea they’ve ever had. It’s like suggesting the local fox can be trusted with the keys to the hen house. Normally it could be laughed off but we live in a world where the people in charge are uniquely qualified to nod it through by virtue of being both a) stupid enough and b) extreme enough.
Here’s a link the Ramblers much more sensible position on the issue.
Many local footpaths & bridleways could meet the criteria for the West Yorkshire Combined Authorities scheme for improving safety for pedestrians & cyclists. Here’s the consultation link Safe Streets Map
Spendthrift Kirklees Council have been out shopping and bought themselves a hotel!
Is this the same Kirklees Council who for a decade have been cutting essential public services (rights of way maintenance amongst them) with the justification that they have …er..no money? 60 pence less per pound is the mantra we’ve all learnt by rote.
It seems they’ve looked down the back of the corporate sofa and found all those 60p’s !
The story is featured in what passes for the local newspaper here but of course the Council have not revealed the cost to the public of this rather lavish purchase. Obviously I think we should be told.
In other news Councillor Shabir Pandor our leader from Batley has issued a statement on the current coronavirus crisis. I’m sure blog readers will be reassured by Councillor Pandor’s assertion that “our strength is in our togetherness” and his timely advice on hand washing.
One thing we’ve noticed here at PathWatch HQ is just how smoothly things can go if frontline council staff are allowed to do their jobs. Things do go noticeably downhill when either management or (some) councillors are involved in just about anything Prow related. The temptation to do a dodgy deal or be “pragmatic” is just to much.
Ramsden Road, “Not To Standard But Acceptable”, Huddersfield Byway 231 and “The solution has no basis is law” episode are notable examples of the highly contagious management virus infecting straightforward Prow matters.
Well sort of… There’s not much humour in the bureaucracy surrounding public rights of way but in this fps_z4718-_14d_12_decision (1) direction from the Planning Inspectorate the reasoning seems to be the impending mortality of the witnesses. It would seem the Inspectorate are of the view a good life expectancy is essential if you are ever to get off the Kirklees “Priority Matrix” for rights of way claims. You’ve got to laugh….