Agriculture Bill

Written evidence submitted by Julie Main (AB37)

For the bill committee:

As there is no legal definition of what a multi-user route may consist, many local authorities may include pedestrians, cyclists and horse riders, however many class a multi-user route as only having to include pedestrians and cyclists. 

As both the Chairperson for the British Horse Society in Avon and the Chairperson for the North Somerset Local Access forum, I know this to our cost.  Our local authority talks about inclusion for horses, however this is often not the case, we have recently had a cycleway where horse riders were originally told they could use it, now closed due to one complaint, even though we had had numerous years of successful usage by all parties. 

Other routes that are being put in place are still being looked at as only being available for pedestrians and cyclists again, ignoring the potential inclusion of horse riders, I am sure that this happens across the country. 

In addition to being vulnerable road users, Horse riders also provide significant amounts of money to local communities, Horse riding itself can have significant health benefits, not just physically, but also mentally and can benefit many additional vulnerable groups of users, such as disabled riders, specific age groups who would not exercise otherwise, and is a great way of getting out and enjoying the fresh air and countryside.  Therefore any additional facilities for horse riding, should be included in any planning / local access issues and plans. 

With the oncoming New Agricultural Bill and a ‘Green Brexit’, and specifically the analysis of how farmers and land managers will be paid in relation to ‘public good’s’  there is the potential for horse riders to be included in whatever plans are put into place, or for the multi user routes to be truly defined to include access for not only Pedestrians and Cyclists but also for horse riders. 

Various other Local Access Forums have made calls for potential subsidies to farmers who provide permissive access to their land or areas on their land during the consultation phase, however we need to insure that if this does occur, that horse riders are included in anything that is provided, otherwise again there will be great gains for some (pedestrians and cyclists in terms of access) and the discrimination of others (horse riders) in terms of what is provided.  Therefore my ask is that under any plans in relation to 'Payment for Good's and specifically where this includes payment for public access, that this access truly defines what a multi user path is and that its inclusion should support cyclists and pedestrians, but also horse riders, the devil is in the detail and if it is not specifically defined, I have already found to my cost that this vulnerable user group could once again be ignored or discriminated against.

October 2018

 

Prepared 30th October 2018