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Below is an edited version of the CTC’s stance on the government’s planned selling off of Forestry Commission land in England. A full version can be read here.

Sales of English Forestry Commission Woodlands

26/01/2011

Cycling has gained outstanding benefits from an extremely fruitful relationship with the Forestry Commission supported by both government and Forestry Commission policies that encourage healthy and sustainable recreation.

CTC therefore wishes to see cycle access protected in the event of any increase in the sale of public forests.

Preamble: The Forestry Commission provides around 20% of all off-road cycle access in England, with a standard of usability far greater than that found on the rights of way (RoW) network, making it attractive both to mountain bikers and the family cyclist.

CTC affiliate IMBA-UK estimates that as a result of this reliability of access, off-road cycle rides are split fairly evenly with a third of all recreational rides on Forestry Commission trails, a third on the RoW network in National Parks, and the remaining third on all other byways & bridleways, un-surfaced unclassified roads, towpaths and rail-trails.

While woodland owners outside the Forestry Commission have a reasonable track record for encouraging access on foot, this is not the case for cycling, with only a handful of woodlands open for cycles including Crown Estates at Bracknell, Ladybower Woods in the Peak District and Penshurst Woods in Kent.

Increased burden of management, the desire for privacy, liability issues, and conflict with shooting interests are cited as the main reasons for this lack of enthusiasm.

CTC therefore has considerable concerns that the sale of significant areas of publicly owned forest will result in an unacceptable loss of cycling facility – at odds with government policy to encourage physical activity and access to the countryside.

CTC stance: CTC believes that cycle access should be fully protected in the event of any accelerated sales programme, and believes that this is best achieved through dedication of forest roads and waymarked trails through s16 Countryside & Rights of Way Act 2000.

CTC action:

  1. CTC is in discussion with the Forestry Commission to find solutions to its concerns and is lobbying government to include protection of cycle access as part of any sales.
  2. Once DEFRA (the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs) has launched its consultation on the sale, CTC will be activating its members both to respond to the consultation and to write to their MPs asking for their support in gaining cycle access protection.

Please go to www.ctc.org.uk/DesktopModules/Articles/ArticlesView.aspx?TabID=0&ItemID=575&mid=13678 to read the complete article.

If you wish to take action against this planned selling off of public forests, please read www.rideastonhill.co.uk/2010/11/government-to-sell-off-forestry-commission-sites/, sign the petition and write to your local member of parliment.