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Action urged over 'out of control' off-track cyclists in the New Forest

The New Forest waymarked cycle network covers around 100 miles of Crown land
The New Forest waymarked cycle network covers around 100 miles of Crown land

THE verderers have demanded a plan to deal with “out of control” cyclists as part of an agreement to extend permission for the New Forest’s waymarked bicycle network.

Forestry England, which manages the district’s Crown lands, recently approached the verderers for official consent to extend access to the network of tracks for a further three years.

However, concerns about off-track cycling have led verderers to demand further answers before agreeing to the extension.

In a report to the verderers’ committee, member Anthony Pasmore highlighted the widespread issue of off-track cycling combined with a perceived lack of any enforcement action.

He suggested that Forestry England could address the issue by invoking a byelaw forbidding all cycling on the Forest except on the waymarked cycle network.

The issue was debated by the verderers, and several court members expressed frustration at Forestry England’s apparent inability to tackle off-track cycling which has been blamed for disturbing wildlife and damaging habitats.

The Deputy Surveyor, Bruce Rothnie, suggested that there could be opportunities for extra funding from the planning system, operated by the national park authority, which would enable the organisation to deploy additional staff to tackle the issue.

The existing New Forest waymarked cycle network covers around 100 miles of Crown land and in addition there are many more bridleways and small country lanes which can be used for cycling.

Verderers have also expressed concerns that a number of bridleways finish

straight onto open Forest which could be exacerbating problems.

A spokesperson for Forestry England said: “The Deputy Surveyor spoke at the virtual Verderers’ Court in November, asking for the verderers agreement for the existing network of waymarked cycle routes on gravel tracks on the crown lands for a further three years 2021 to 2023 inclusive.

“The next step is for Forestry England to put forward proposals to the verderers with details of mitigation work to manage the impact of cyclists not using the current waymarked cycle network.”

The verderers are set to consider the requested extension of the way marked cycle route during their next meeting on 16th December.

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