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Cyclists and horse riders will benefit from greater accessibility to ...
Cyclists and horse riders will benefit from greater accessibility to

the rights of way network in England, rural affairs minister Alun

Michael announced today to mark the publication of draft guidance on

preparing rights of way improvement plans.

The department for environment, food and rural affairs has issued a

consultation paper to all local authorities in England on how to

prepare, publish and review plans for improving the rights of way


Under the Countryside and Rights of Way Act, there is a new duty on

local authorities to look strategically at their rights of way

network and to assess how it meets the needs of local people -

particularly equestrians and cyclists. Local authorities will need to

set out in these plans what else needs to be done to meet future

needs. Improvement plans will need to be in place in the next five

years. Particular regard should be given to blind or partially

sighted persons, as well as those with mobility problems.

Alun Michael, rural affairs minister said:

'We are seeking views on this key provision on rights of way. The

guidance clarifies the new duty on local authorities to make an

honest assessment of their rights of way network, think about short

comings and strategically plan for its improvement - making use of

the powers they already have.

'This new approach will be of great use to those areas that are

tourist destinations which felt the impact of the closure of rights

of way during the foot and mouth outbreak most severely. But it is

not just about tourism, it is about local use too. These changes

don't have to be major. Sometimes the creation of a short connecting

path is all that is necessary to provide a useful local cut through,

to provide access to a local beauty spot, or to link up an almost

circular walk.

'Nor is it just about walkers. The rights of way network provides

access to the countryside for other types of users too and these

plans should look at how well they are catered for. The aim of this

proposal was to increase provision for horse riders and carriage

drivers and cyclists, and those who cannot easily use all the current

paths - for instance those with mobility problems and the blind or

partially sighted.

'It is important to get this guidance right, and I welcome views

particularly from all local authorities, all users of rights of way

and groups that represent disabled users, but also from anybody else

with an interest in this important aspect of our countryside.'


1. The consultation paper 'Draft guidance to local highway

authorities on the preparation of rights of way improvement plans'

will be published on 20 December.

2. It sets out the government's proposed guidance to local

authorities on preparing, publishing, assessing and reviewing rights

of way improvement plans under section 61(4) of the Countryside and

Rights of Way Act 2000. Section 60 of the Countryside and Rights of

Way Act 2000 requires local highway authorities (other than an inner

London authority) to prepare and publish rights of way improvement

plans, and to assess and review plans not more than 10 years after

publication and at intervals of not less than 10 years thereafter.

The closing date for the consultation is 28 March.

3. Copies will be available from: DEFRA Publications, Admail

6000, London SW1A 2XX. Tel: 08459 556000. It will also be

available on the DEFRA website.

4. The original proposal is set out in the 1999 consultation paper

'Improving Rights of Way in England and Wales'.

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