TRF Welcome NERC Act Review

The House of Lords Select Committee reviewing the 2006 Natural Environment and Rural Communities (NERC) Act recently published its report examining the progress and consequences of the Act.

We’re pleased that the report has recommended the introduction of a simpler, more flexible TRO system to benefit both public services and public access.

Public access to (and conservation of) green roads featured, which saw evidence submitted by LARA, TRF, Kent County Council and anti-access organisations – the latter using the review as a platform to further their ideology in spite of such claims being both selective, and largely unsupported by the Government’s own evidence.

TRF – represented by Chairman Mario Costa-Sa and supported by Technical Director John Vannuffel – demonstrated motorcycle use of the green road network to be infrequent and of no greater impact than that of horse riding. TRF reaffirmed its support of the use of proportional Traffic Regulation Orders to deal with irresponsible behaviour and public use during periods of unsustainability – such as when soft ground is waterlogged.

LARA – represented by Alan Kind and representing GLASS – made the case that the Act had been a ‘blunt instrument’ which had harmed public access by creating a network inconsistent with historical and legal purpose. Alan joined TRF in advocating a new, flexible system for public routes to be temporarily closed during periods of not being able to support sustained public use.

Kent County Council made the case that the Act fell short with its provision to prevent criminal misuse of the green road network, as bollards could not be used to deny access to routes located within National Parks. By implication, this affirms the TRO process to be effective in regulating use by responsible members of the public, with disregard to legal orders (unsurprisingly) being the preserve of criminals.

Kent also drew attention to how the Act had concentrated motor vehicle use within a smaller network, citing it as an ‘unintended consequence’. TRF et al warned of this at the time of enactment, though were unsuccessful at the time in convincing Parliament of the legacy of a diminished green road network.

TRF support the selective and fair reopening of routes closed to motor vehicles by NERC where use can be demonstrated to be both sustainable and suitable as part of a wider review of network connectivity and consistency. As part of this, we support the use of TRO to regulate less sustainable green roads not currently subject to restrictions on public use.

Of particular note was the establishment that only two National Park Authorities had seen fit to use TRO powers to regulate or prohibit motor vehicle use within their boundaries.

Watch Mario and Alan give evidence:



Mario

TRF Chairman Mario Costa-Sa address the Select Committee.

Jimmy
Jimmy
Motorcycling, adventure and fraternity.

8 Comments

  1. I would be really pleased if we manage to get 20% of Gloucestershire’s restricted byways given all the hard work Gloucestershire TRF members carried out filing evidence claims. It was absolutely scandalous how NERC was forced through by the then government in power.
    Well done Mario, you’ll get my vote.

    • To be fair Michael, the TRF was given to understand that it had a decent deal done over NERC with the Government of the day…the Bill was amended at the last minute by a number of back benchers to make it what it was.

  2. Martin Smith says:

    Looking at the report, I don’t see anything about RB’s being reclassified, or there being any lanes regained, rather that the TRO process will become easier and more “streamlined”

    • Dale Wyatt says:

      Correct. We can only get to ride ex RuPPs with enough user evidence in our favour. It would be nice if they looked at reclassifying some ex RuPPs on sustainability, but that will never happen. The antis are too well organised in high places.

    • The main threat was intense lobbying by the anti – public access industry to downgrade all UCR’s to restricted byway. That would have resulted in the loss of around half the green roads in England and Wales.
      There is scope to improve the TRO process in respect of advertising requirements – there is no need to have notices published in local newspapers.
      The TRO process would also become easier and more streamlined if there were some meaningful and robust safeguards for proportionality – there are none at present. Such safeguards would reduce the incidence of irrational TRO’s being made and then defeated by TRF’s litigation. Reducing the likelihood of such irrational exercise of powers, would make the TRO process easier, as the options would be robustly limited to fit for purpose TRO’s.
      TRF advocates the use of procedural safeguards that are similar to those for Public Space Protection Orders (PSPO’s), which have provision for proportionality.
      PSPO’s are readily available as a streamlined and easy alternative to TRO’s for managing motorised traffic that presents a nuisance. Providing that it can be demonstrated that the traffic is a nuisance and that the restriction is proportional, they are extremely easy and streamlined to impose.

      • “PSPO’s are readily available as a streamlined and easy alternative to TRO’s for managing motorised traffic that presents a nuisance. Providing that it can be demonstrated that the traffic is a nuisance and that the restriction is proportional, they are extremely easy and streamlined to impose.”

        Not sure why that’s a good thing…if Mrs Miggins demonstrates that trail bikes going past her garden gate every Sunday afternoon are a nuisance
        then that’s it, we are done for.
        Or, am I missing something?

      • Also, what do we gain by removing the requirement to advertise planned TROs in local newspapers?

        Apart from nailing notices to gateposts how else are the public to be notified of them?

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