The importance of motorised access to unsealed ‘green roads’ for both society and the rural economy was outlined in a positive and constructive meeting with the Department or the Environment and Rural Affairs Minister Trudy Harrison MP yesterday. The meeting was organised by the National Motorcyclists Council (NMC) with support from NMC members the Trail Riders Fellowship (TRF), the British Motorcyclists Federation (BMF) and partners the Land Access and Recreation Association (LARA). The objective of the discussion was to seek a positive and more balanced approach to countryside access by all users – including those on motorcycles and other motorised vehicles.
It was clear from the start that the minister has general support for NMC, TRF, BMF and LARA aims. Ms Harrison spoke positively about motorised access issues, noting that she lives right by a green road and access to such routes can help individuals to develop skills which can lead to positive outcomes, including for those who go on to participate in motorcycle sport. She also spoke positively about access for various local and countryside activities, remarking that it is unfortunate that so many green roads have been lost to motorcycling and other vehicles and that more people would appreciate knowledge about historic roads and routes.
Harrison said that access should be preserved and in particular that creating better access to the countryside can benefit disabled access via motor vehicles - given that in many cases this is the only option they have to access many rural areas. She added that there needs to be a proper balance of green lane usage across various users, so that overall more people can use this historic national asset however they choose to access it. Ms Harrison also feels that there should be more ‘assisted active travel’ including motorised access, but that she wants to see responsible use of green roads by motorised users.
Decarbonisation was also discussed and Ms Harrison appeared open to an approach which utilises different routes to net zero. Last week’s meeting between the NMC, industry and DfT Minister Jesse Norman was discussed and Ms Harrison agreed to speak to Mr Norman about the issues the NMC raised with her in relation to decarbonisation.
The meeting closed with agreement that the issues raised in a NMC, TRF and LARA briefing document would be discussed further with DEFRA officials and as part of a new working group on access which has been formed as a result of last year’s Landscapes Review.
Graeme Collins, CEO of the Trail Riders Fellowship said: “The Minister’s knowledge of the issues surrounding the loss of public access to the road network was refreshingly enlightened, as was her inclusive and balanced approach to public access to the countryside for all users. The TRF looks forward to working with the minster and DEFRA officials in a number of areas where opportunities exist to improve access for all including motorised users.”
LARA’s Dave Waterman said: “Following an open and constructive discussion with the Minister, we look forward to working with DEFRA in a number of areas where we are confident of being able to make a positive contribution to improving the green roads network for everyone - whatever their chosen means of access.”
NMC Executive Director Craig Carey-Clinch said: “This hugely positive meeting revealed what is possible in terms of creating a better and fairer approach to motorcycling on unsealed roads. We are hugely grateful for Ms Harrison’s interest in the issues and her personal insight and knowledge about motorcycling and the countryside.”
Notes to Editors
1. For further comment from the NMC please contact Craig Carey-Clinch, on 07979 757484 / email@example.com.
2. For further comment from LARA, please email Dave Waterman on firstname.lastname@example.org
3. For further comment from the TRF, please email Graeme Collins on email@example.com
4. National Motorcyclists Council members are: The Auto Cycle Union, BikeSocial, BikeTrac, the British Motorcyclists Federation, IAM RoadSmart, the National Motorcycle Dealers Association, the Trail Riders Fellowship and the Vintage Motor Cycle Club.
(Photograph: Trudy Harrison MP, DEFRA Access Minister with NMC Executive Director Craig Carey Clinch at the 2022 parliamentary launch of the NMC's 'Motorcycling and the Future of Transport Policy'.)