Feel free to copy it if you want.Dear Sir,
Natural Environment & Rural Communities Act 2006
I write concerning the stated aim of the new Coalition Government to repeal recent legislation where it is ineffectual or otherwise flawed. I ask that you forward this letter to the Deputy Prime Minister, Rt Hon Nick Clegg MP and pursue its outcome.
Despite introducing some good environmental protections, the Natural Environment & Rural Communities Act 2006 was heavily influenced by a well organised lobby of landowners and other self interested parties. Their particular aim was to manipulate Section 67 of the Act to effectively ban motorised vehicles from the countryside. As a result Section 67 of the act developed into a clumsy and flawed piece of legislation that has caused an extremely unfair and unreasonable impact to a significant part of our community. Rather than solving access problems, this legislation has led to confusion amongst the public, local authorities and landowners alike.
The stated aim of Section 67 was to reduce the unlawful use of motor vehicles in the countryside, whilst I appreciate that something needs to be done in regard to the illegal activity that does take place, the actual effect of section 67 was to reduce the lawful use of motor vehicles whilst completely failing to address virtually all the unlawful activity it sought to alleviate.
This piece of legislation, and its seemingly underhanded amendments, is totally ineffectual. It retrospectively changed legislation and singularly failed to deal with the unlawful use of MPV’s whilst effectively criminalising a small section of our society. It has created absurd situations where some ‘normal’ roads are now illegal to drive on.
What I find most disturbing is the lobby group who were most effective at influencing this legislation were a well funded and exceptionally well organised landowner’s lobby group. The last Government was successfully manipulated into creating a law which serves the richest and most powerful landowners at the expense of those who could not afford the lobbying investment.
Of all the rights of way in this country (Footpaths, bridleways, restricted byways and byways open to all traffic, etc) less than 3% of them can be used legally with a motorised vehicle. The vehicles using these routes have to comply with the same laws and rules that apply to ‘normal’ roads. They must be taxed, insured and if required, have a current MOT. Drivers must also hold a valid licence to drive the vehicle they are using.
The image portrayed by the likes of The Ramblers Association and other groups like GLEAM, that there are ‘gas guzzling’ 4x4’s and motorcycles hurtling all over the countryside at high speed, making a lot of noise and causing massive amounts of damage to rights of way is simply and completely untrue.
Another effect of this flawed legislation is that it has also resulted in many historic rights of way becoming completely overgrown due to lack of motorised vehicle use. As a result this has rendered them completely impassable by anyone at all. This being the case, there is a real danger of them being lost forever as a right of way thus playing right into the hands of greedy landowners.
The NERC Act needs to be repealed and a fairer and more equitable piece of legislation put in place, based on truth and fact, not bare faced lies and manipulated perceptions.
The countryside belongs to us all, not just those with enough money to effectively exclude others.
As my elected representative in government, I look forward to your efforts to get this unjust, ineffectual, divisive, flawed and unfair legislation repealed.