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Call for off road action

Published: 01 December 2004

A recent parliamentary debate on off road riding has shown the government is beginning to recognise the issues faced by dirt riders in the UK.

Welsh MP Huw Irranca-Davies, who is a keen off-roader, made a speech to the House of Commons promoting the ACU’s approach to improving the public perception of off roading.

The ACU is working with local authorities to try and get more official places for people to ride off road, while also clamping down on illegal riding and the use of stolen machines.

Irranca-Davies has spoken to various local authorities all of which said that illegal riding was a growing problem for them but they were having serious difficulties getting permission to open official sites.

“My preferred approach would be to provide opportunities for people to pursue off-road biking,” said Irranca-Davies. “And then come down hard on the people that abuse that right… But how can we clamp down on the miscreants if we do not provide the facilities as well? We have to adopt a stick-and-carrot approach and recognise that off road biking is as legitimate as any other activity.”

The speech was answered by Alun Michael, the Minister of state, Rural Affairs, who appeared to agree. He spent a lot of his time talking about the current powers that police and authorities have to penalise riders but added that he has already set up a working group to see how the Governments approach to off-roading can be changed and promised to seriously consider its recommendations.

He also added that he sees the provisional of alternative off road sites as a good way to boost the rural economy.

“From my departments perspective,” said Michael. “Off-road sites also offer opportunities for farmers and landowners to take part in diversification, possibly utilising grants through the rural enterprise scheme.

“Highway authorities are encouraged to take positive steps to identify suitable sites, such as disused quarries, for inclusion in local plans. We will be looking again at how to strengthen this advice.”

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