"Horse riders: add your weight to forestry fight, "says Maureen Comber
The British Horse Society has pledged its commitment to fight for the future of equestrian access to public forests.
The government has announced that the consultation on the future management of the Public Forest Estate has been halted and all forestry clauses in the Public Bodies Bill will be removed.
However this does not mean that the fight is over yet.
It is anticipated that the government will still proceed with the sale of 40,000 hectares over the four year period 2011/12 to 2014/15.
Environment Secretary Caroline Spelman is establishing an independent Panel to consider forestry policy in England. It will report to her with its findings this autumn. The Panel will advise on the future direction of forestry and woodland policy in England, on the role of the Forestry Commission, and on the role of the Public Forest Estate. The Panel will include representatives of key environmental and access organisations alongside representatives of the forestry industry. Membership and terms of reference will be published shortly.
Horse riders have access to just 22 percent of public rights of way and horse-drawn vehicle drivers a mere five percent - therefore the loss of any other safe off-road riding opportunities in our forests would be devastating for equestrians if access is not preserved.
Mark Weston, Director of Access, Safety and Welfare, said: "The announcement will be a great relief to all equestrians. This has been a significant lobbying victory for equestrians and other interested parties.
"However, we now need to make sure that the Government lives up to its various pronouncements that it wants to see improved access for equestrians in our forests. The Forestry Commission should now dedicate rights of access for equestrians in our forests pursuant to section 16 of the Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000, so that our access is never put in danger again."
We still need you to make your MPs aware of the needs and rights of riders who use the Britain 's forests and woodlands.
If you get a response, we'd love to hear from you: you can post us copies to the HQ address, or email them to email@example.com.
The Society is urging all riders to join them in their campaign. Anyone who wishes to be kept up-to-date with the Society's progress should email firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject title 'count me in'.