BHS submits response to the Welsh Government on the 'Taking Forward Wales’ Sustainable Management of Natural Resources' Consultation. The Society concurs with the Welsh Government, that the current system underpinning access to the countryside in Wales is too complex and burdensome. A fairer approach is required, that will provide more safe off road access for equestrians, who are arguably the most vulnerable of road users. Equestrians need greater access to paths and open country and consequently the British Horse Society endorses many of the proposals in this consultation.
Allowing for a broader range of non–motorised recreation on paths, open country and inland water will encourage, facilitate and enable more people to use these areas to improve their own personal health and consequently the health of the nation, as well as bringing added economic benefit to Wales by the increased spend as a result of such recreation.
Equestrians desperately need safe routes for the same reasons as walkers and cyclists; many roads are no longer safe for them to use due to the speed and volume of traffic on the roads. British Horse Society research has shown that there have been 2,568 road accidents reported to them in the last 6 years, which involved the death of 222 horses and 38 riders.
These days, many equestrian rights of way can only be reached using busy roads. In Wales, riders currently have less than 22% of the public rights of way network and much less in many counties. In some areas, there are no bridleways at all. Many rights of way are now disconnected from each other because the roads that connect them are no longer safe for equestrians to use because of the speed and volume of motorised traffic on them. This leaves many equestrians without access to a safe local route to use.
We know this impacts on equestrian core market participation, with 44% of those riding once a week or less saying they would ride more frequently if they had access to safe off road riding or bridleways (BETA survey, 2015). This is the most cited reason that would make people ride more frequently.
91% of respondents to a recent survey of 750 horse riders said that spending time outdoors was very important, or important motivation for horse riding, therefore providing places for people to ride outdoors safely is vital to sustaining the core market.
The National Equine Database statistics for 2012 state that there were 134,748 passported horses in Wales.
Consultation Document (pdf)
BHS Lobbying Information (pdf)
Download the BHS Response Document (pdf)
The consultation closes on 30 September and individual responses from horse riders should be submitted by then.