Motorised access to the countryside
The use of motor vehicles in the countryside is a complicated subject which raises strong feelings. More and more people are using motorised propelled vehicles (MPVs) like 4x4s or motorbikes for recreation.
The three main forms of provision for off-roading come from:-
Motorised vehicles (MPVs) can use 'Byways Open to All Traffic' (BOATs). This is the only classification of highway that provides conclusive public rights for the use of MPVs - there are about 220 kilometres of these byways in Powys. To find out which byways or routes you can use with an MPV, then you need to view the Definitive Map and Statement at the Council Offices in Llandrindod Wells. OS Explorer Maps will show where byways are, along with other public rights of way but they are not definitive and may have errors. Another good place is the trailwise website which shows where byways are and also whether the route is subject to a Traffic Regulation Order.
MPVs cannot be used on public footpaths, bridleways and restricted byways without lawful authority and it is a criminal offence to do so. If you think that public MPV rights exist over a private track or footpath, bridleway or restricted byway then you must apply to the Council with your supporting evidence to amend the Definitive map, for which more detail is available at Making changes to public rights of way.
There are misconceptions about the use of MPVs, and it is important that the public understands the legal position, and what is being done to tackle illegal use of MPVs.
The Welsh Off-Road Motoring Steering Group (WORMS) helps agencies to work together to give consistent guidance across Wales.
The WORMS (Ed/Enf) Working Group is responding to the concerns local communities have voiced about illegal MPV use by providing accurate information and ensuring consistency across Wales.
Some of the best information is from a charitable organisation called Treadlightly! This new organisation was founded and is endorsed by the Green Lanes Association (GLASS), Countryside Recreation Access Group (CRAG) and the Trail Riders Fellowship (TRF).
It's hard to enforce the law on off-roading in a rural area as large as mid-Wales, and the appropriate agencies must work together.
Recently, the Mid Wales Off Road Forum (MWORF) was set up, made up of representatives from Dyfed Powys Police, Brecon Beacons National Park Authority, Ceredigion and Powys County Councils, Natural Resources Wales, GLASS, CRAG and the TRF. The Group is chaired by Dyfed-Powys Police.
We have to concentrate our resources in areas that we know have consistent problems with illegal MPV use, and we learn about this through complaints from the public. When we know there's a problem, Powys County Council's Off-Road Unit is put into action.
The MWORF also works with the Highway Authority to determine enforcement on highways that don't currently have definitive MPV rights.
The offences are largely under s.34 Road Traffic Act 1988 for driving on any footpaths, bridleways or restricted byways. The offence is also for driving on private land without lawful authority. This is entirely a Police matter, but the Council works in partnership with the Police.