Previous SectionIndexHome Page

Byways open to all Traffic

'(1)   Within 3 years of the date of commencement of sections 61 and 62 the Secretary of State shall review every modification order made, or applied for and subsequently made, in England and Wales between 20 January 2005 and commencement, under section 53(2) of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981, to add a byway open to all traffic to a definitive map and statement or to upgrade an existing highway to a byway open to all traffic.

(2)   On review under subsection (1), the Secretary of State shall make an order in accordance with subsection (3) where he is satisfied that—

(a)   there is or may be damage to the natural environment by users of the byway open to all traffic in mechanically propelled vehicles, or

(b)   use of the byway open to all traffic by mechanically propelled vehicles does or may constitute a danger to any other class of traffic or restrict use of the byway by other classes of traffic.

(3)   An order referred to in subsection (2) is a traffic regulation order as defined by section 1 of the Road Traffic Regulation Act 1984 and the Secretary of State shall make an order under that section as if he were a traffic authority for a road outside Greater London.

(4)   If without lawful authority a person drives a mechanically propelled vehicle on a byway open to all traffic in respect of which an order under subsection (3) has been made he is guilty of an offence.

(5)   A person guilty of an offence under subsection (4) shall be liable on summary conviction to a fine not exceeding level 3 on the standard scale.'. —[Mr. Paice.]

Brought up, and read the First time.

6 pm

Mr. Paice: I beg to move, That the clause be read a Second time.

Mr. Deputy Speaker: With this it will be convenient to discuss the following:

New clause 10—Driving a mechanically propelled vehicle on a footpath or bridleway or restricted byway (No. 2)—

'(1)   Section 34 of the Road Traffic Act 1988 (c. 52) (prohibition of driving mechanically propelled vehicles elsewhere than on roads) is amended as follows.

(2)   After subsection (3) insert—

"(3A)   It is not an offence under this section for the owner or lessee of premises in existence at the date of commencement of section 47 of the Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000 or a successor in title to such premises or a lawful visitor thereto to drive a mechanically propelled vehicle on a road being a footpath or bridleway or restricted byway if the driving of that vehicle is necessary for the reasonable occupation of the premises and where no other right of vehicular access to such premises is otherwise available for the benefit of the premises.".'.

11 Oct 2005 : Column 203

New clause 21—Evidence that a way is a restricted byway—

'Where at any time (whether before or after commencement of this provision) there is evidence of use of any vehicle, not being a bicycle on a bridleway after December 31st 1968, on a way, that evidence shall be acceptable evidence tending to show that the way in question is a carriageway having the status of a restricted byway.'.

New clause 23—Regulation of cycle racing on public ways—

'(1)   Amend section 31 of the Road Traffic Act 1988 (c. 52) (regulation of cycle racing on public ways) as follows.

(2)   In subsection (2) omit "other than a bridleway".

(3)   In subsection (6) omit "but does not include a footpath".'.

Amendment No. 6, in clause 62, page 24, line 35, leave out 'commencement' and insert '19th May 2005'.

Amendment No. 7, in page 25, line 13, leave out 'commencement' and insert '19th May 2005'.

Amendment No. 12, in page 25, line 14, leave out

'was reasonably necessary to enable'

and insert 'enables'.

Amendment No. 13, in page 25, line 19, leave out from 'way' to end and insert

'at all times and for all purposes for the benefit of that land and all parts thereof'.

Amendment No. 11, in clause 97, page 40, line 5, leave out from 'force' to end of line 8 and insert 'upon enactment'.

Mr. Paice: I suspect that this group of new clauses and amendments, which deals with the Government's proposals to change legislation on rights of way for mechanically propelled vehicles, will engage hon. Members on both sides of the House more than any other tonight. I want to start by re-emphasising the Opposition's support for clauses 61 and 62. We need to ensure that there is peaceful and quiet use of our byways wherever possible, especially given the ample evidence of the damage that is being done to a number of them by motorised vehicles.

There is increasing public concern about four-wheel drive vehicles and motor bikes making many byways impassable for pedestrians and horse riders. Ample photographic evidence of the damage caused by their use has been circulated to members of the Committee, and much of it has been sent to other hon. Members. The Minister has seen it all and, indeed, witnessed the damage for himself, as have I and my right hon. and hon. Friends. I do not intend to rehearse the arguments that the Government have already made for clauses 61 and 62, but I want to say a few words about what may well be perceived as unusual: Opposition support for regulation instead of the voluntary approach. We have concluded that, in this instance, regulation is necessary.

Such regulation is necessary because, first, the damage that is being done to the natural environment—the terrain and the surface of byways—should be linked, if possible, to the responsibility for that and, in turn, for its repair. Even if agreement could be reached with the membership of the bodies who represent some of the people who use these routes—the Trail Riders Fellowship or the Green Lane Association—there is no
11 Oct 2005 : Column 204
guarantee that all users will be members of those bodies. The agreement would not apply to everyone who drives vehicles of different sorts along BOATs.

Secondly, there is ample evidence—again, it has been provided to the Minister—that many members of the TRF see the present attempt at a voluntary approach as simply a means of heading off the legislation without serious intent of complying with it. We made it clear in Committee that an alternative approach would be for people to use private land for off-roading and to pay a fee for doing so. That fee could cover the cost of repair. That would be akin to the existing arrangement in different parts of the country for horse riding, where long routes have been devised by adjoining land owners. The riders pay a fee to the landowners and wear some sort of insignia, badge or armband that allows them to ride for many miles. There is no reason why that cannot be done for motorised vehicles.

Mr. Henry Bellingham (North-West Norfolk) (Con): My hon. Friend has looked at the issue carefully. Does he agree that until recently if someone wanted to drive off-road in a four-wheel drive vehicle they had to go along a vehicular right of way? Now many farms and estates offer facilities for off-road driving. Therefore, the time has probably come to say to these people "There are plenty of facilities. You do not need to damage bridleways and vehicular rights of way."

Next Section IndexHome Page