Ask your MLA to ensure Horse Riding is included in the NI Greenways Strategy
We’re asking you to contact your Legislative Assembly Member today to ask them to speak out and vote for any access created out of the Greenways Strategy (2016) to provide for horse riders and carriage drivers, and not just walkers and cyclists.
A template letter is available below for you to cut and paste and amend as you deem fit.
You can use the following link to find your MP
Do you horse ride or carriage drive in Northern Ireland? Do you need more safe off road places? There is an opportunity for the historic railway network of linear trails throughout Northern Ireland to be opened for public access by walker, cyclists and horse riders, and your voice could help make this happen. Now is the time to speak up. Applications for funding in support of Greenway projects are to be submitted before 3 December 2021 by councils.”
BHS Ireland is working hard to lobby the Northern Ireland Assembly and work in partnership with stakeholders for the provision of safe off road opportunities to include equestrians, incentives for landowners to provide such access, and to protect and extend the access that exists to beaches, forestry, and other areas.
In recent years the BHS has worked to enable access to several new sites where equestrians would previously not have had access. This access is on a multiuser basis i.e walkers, cyclists and horse riders. We are pleased to see permits being either removed in exchange for more modern administration and site management systems which are free of charge to the public, or where permits are still used, that they are being applied fairly to all users such as Drumkeeragh, managed by Newry, Mourne and District Borough Council, and Gortin Glen Forest managed by Fermanagh and Omagh District Council.
The Greenway project aims to enable public access to the disused railway network which once, and could again, connect the communities of Northern Ireland, this time through an off road, traffic free multiuse network of walking, cycling and horse riding trails.
I am sure you will agree, that there are not enough safe places for equestrians to access in Northern Ireland. The vast majority of the equestrian population are forced to use the road. Some hack to, or transport a horse to an access site such as a forest or beach; however these type of sites are not readily or sufficiently available throughout Northern Ireland.
During the pandemic 31% of adults increased the amount of time spent exercising outdoors and 83% of those said being in nature made them happy. DEFRA - The People and Nature Survey (2020). Current research globally is predicting that post pandemic, demand for public access to the outdoors will continue to rise.
The benefits of countryside access and horse riding not only to physical health but also to mental health and wellbeing are well proven. Increasing and enhancing access supports the Government’s aims to connect people with the environment, to improve health and wellbeing, including more remote and rural areas.
Removing the barriers to enable access for users with mobility vehicles or restricted abilities can deliver the same solution aimed for by horse riders. Multi-user routes should benefit all non motorised users including those who rely upon mobility aids or vehicles to access them.