The Trails Trust
the trails trust
Creating multi-user public rights of way
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July 2014 Upper Vobster Railway path bridleway final decision

The Trustees are very pleased to announce that Planning Inspector Heidi Cruickshank has issued the final decision in this case. The public bridleway Order is confirmed subject to the alignment (as in use on the ground) and width modifications agreed on site during the Public Inquiry in October 2013.

Thanks are due to the landowners, local users and everyone else who helped and supported in anyway. The route will now be recorded on the Definitive Map and Statement and will be shown on Ordance Survey maps as a bridleway - safe for future generations to use and enjoy.

See the Plan and the Report.

Paths for Communities Newsletter

Read the Paths for Communities Newsletter for Autumn 2013.

Read PC4 Newsletter

Trails Trust's Rachel Thompson awarded MBE

The Trails Trust (TTT) Management Board is delighted to announce that its Project and Development Officer, Mrs Rachel Mary Thompson, who lives in Priddy near Wells in Somerset, has been awarded an MBE for bridleway creation services in Her Majesty The Queen's Birthday Honours List 2013.

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Natural England has published a funding and management review for National Trails (28th March)

Over the last two years Natural England has been working closely with a wide range of partners and stakeholders to review the management arrangements for National Trails. The Review has now been completed.

The new deal will result in effective management arrangements, equitable and transparent funding for the family of National Trails, as well as strengthen the role of users and local stakeholders and provide an updated framework for how it monitors the quality standards for these national assets.

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'People Power Wins! Good News for Our Nation’s Forests'
says local MP Tessa Munt

Tessa Munt writes: "Following our previous correspondence, I’m writing today to let you know that my Lib Dem colleague David Heath, recently appointed as Minister for Forestry in DEFRA, has published the response to the Independent Panel Report on the Future of Forestry. Selling off the nation’s forests provoked a massive response from local people, filling my postbag, email inbox and dominating my local surgeries for weeks. Of all the correspondence I have received since I was elected as your MP in 2010, saving our forests remains the single largest subject matter.

My Lib Dem colleagues and I led the campaign to reverse the original decision in Parliament; you may recall my 35 point letter to the previous Secretary of State on this issue, letting her know exactly how many local people had contacted me to express their concerns.

I am delighted that the Minister’s response, published on Thursday 31st January, makes it clear once and for all that the public forest estate will stay in public ownership in perpetuity. The ludicrous plan to sell off 15% of the estate has been reversed, and not only has the budget that was to be cut as a result been restored, but more money has been found to ensure the proposals can be funded properly."

Read the policy statement

Somerset County Council: Fordbury Lane (Mells / Great Elm)

At the meeting of the Regulation Committee on 7 March 2013 the County Council decided to make an Order in accordance with Schedule 15 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981, the effect of which will be to modify the Definitive Map to add a bridleway running from Elm Lane and to upgrade footpaths FR 5/8 and FR 18/18A to a bridleway. The order will be published in the local press in the near future and a period of 42 days will be allowed for objections.

The County Council also refused to make an Order to add and upgrade the route to a byway open to all traffic. The applicant has the right of appeal direct to the Secretary of State for the Environment against the decision.

The appeal must be lodged within 28 days from the date on which the County Council issues its decision. An order that is unopposed, to which all objections and representations have been withdrawn, may be confirmed by the County Council as Highway Authority. However, if an objection is received, and cannot be resolved, the Order must be submitted to the Secretary of State for the Environment for a decision.

Defra issue Guidance Note on EDCL

Defra has issued a Guidence note on EDCL making the Government's position clear. Of particular interest is that EDCL bridleways are protected even though they are not on the Definitive Map yet. The points dealt with include the issue of misleading notices.


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£20 million cycle fund

Transport Minister Norman Baker has announced a £20 million fund for cycling. Announced today by Transport Minister Norman Baker at an Active Travel conference in Leicester, the funding is to help people take to two wheel and may be used for a range of projects including better cycle facilities at railway stations, improved cycle links, or projects to improve the layout of road junctions to make them more cycle-friendly.


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Vobster Appeal

Inspector Peter Millman BA has allowed an appeal by TTT against Somerset County Council's decision not to publish an Order to show the old railway path at Upper Vobster on the Definitive Map as a bridleway.

This is an important landmark in TTT's Express Dedication at Common law process since all the landowners in this case dedicated the route and SCC refused to accept these dedications.

In the report the inspector deals with the issues of dedication, maintenance, presumed dedication where no freeholder exists, mortgaged property and nuisance.


Read the report
Paths for Communities
In May Natural England launched "Paths for Communities (P4C)", a funding scheme set up to develop and enhance the network of Public Rights of Way (PROW) in England in order to deliver benefits to rural areas. Local community partnerships are eligible to bid to Natural England for funds.

The aim of P4C is to encourage and support local communities to work with land owners to make improvements to the network of Public Rights of Way. In all cases P4C projects must include some element of new Public Right of Way creation. In most cases projects will include an element of new Bridleway creation but projects that include Footpath creation alone will also be considered where community and economic benefit can be demonstrated.

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The Right Way Forward
The Country Land and Business Association has published "The Right Way Forward: The CLA's common sense approach to access in the countryside". In his forward to the publication CLA President, Harry Cotterell, argues:

"There is a dichotomy within the public rights of way system in England and Wales. On the one hand it offers more than 137,000 miles of public footpath, bridleway and byway providing a level of access admired throughout the world; on the other hand it is governed by a failing bureaucratic and legislative system which is long-winded, expensive and completely incomprehensible to the ordinary person."

The problems identified in the report are directly drawn from the many experiences of CLA members-landowners and users-who, frequently baffled by the complexities and intricacies of the rights of way system, were compelled to draw on us for guidance. The CLA's stated aim is to provide practical solutions to those problems in ways which are both workable and which would not undermine existing rights of way.

Read/Download Report
Defra Minister writes to Local Access Forums
On 14 February Defra Minister, Richard Benyon, wrote to Local Access Forums to give the results of a consultation process begun in 2011. Last April the Minister made four proposals aimed at improving the information flow between Defra and the forums, these being: an annual training event, a virtual forum for LAF members, a Memorandum of Understanding style agreement between Defra, Natural England, and the LAFs, a seat on the Rights of Way Review Committee.

The Minister writes that all four proposals were broadly supported, although the first two proved significantly more popular. In concluding, he recognises the importance of the LAFs, declaring: "I am aware how successful forums are in carrying out their duties and in involving themselves in improving local quality of life. I put forward these proposals because I see them as key ways to help Local Access Forums continue to be effective and valuable players in the access agenda."

Read Minister's Letter
Trust guide to creating rights of way - Download (FREE)
Creating Multi-user Public Rights of Way - A Guide for Local Groups is now available for download free of charge. Click the icon below to get your copy
(PDF 3,693KB).

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This ground breaking guide gives detailed advice and useful case studies to help people create new trails.

Rachel Thompson, author of the guide, explained that a user group in the Forest of Dean had already used it to secure landowner agreements in principle to the creation of new 50 miles of trails in the Forest, potentially creating the longest greenway in England.