Cheshire County Council Equestrian Strategy by decree


									Cheshire County Council

Equestrian Strategy

                      Cheshire County Council
                      Engineering Service
                      Backford Hall
                      CH1 6AQ
Cheshire Equestrian Strategy


                   1     Introduction                                        2

                   2     Policy and National Initiatives                     3

                   3     Existing Conditions                                 4

                   4     Aims & Objectives                                   8

                   5     Contacts                                            11

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1     Introduction
      1.1     This strategy is the third in a series of three strategies addressing the concerns
      and issues of the three main groups of vulnerable road users: walkers/pedestrians,
      cyclists and equestrians. Although it addresses the main concerns and issues of the
      equestrian it does acknowledge the importance of holistically addressing the concerns
      of all vulnerable road users. It is important to recognise that any new facilities
      developed as bridleways are open to use by walkers and cyclists so would also benefit
      these groups as well.

      1.2    Equestrian activity is a growing leisure pursuit. More than 2.4 million people
      ride regularly and it is estimated that there are some 15,000 people involved in
      carriage driving across the Country. Many more people ride occasionally at a weekend
      or as a holiday activity. Businesses serving the needs of riders are also one of the
      growing areas within the rural economy. In a survey by Horse and Hound (May 2003),
      Cheshire was ranked as the 11th “horsiest” County in Britain, had the greatest number
      of equine vets in the Country and had the seventh highest number of Farriers in the
      Country. This survey suggests that the estimate of the number of horses in the
      County, 30, 000, can only be considered as conservative.

      1.3    Equestrian activity contributes significantly to the rural economy. Estimates
      provided by a survey carried out by the North Cheshire Riders show that it costs
      around £3000 per year to stable a horse in terms of feed, bedding etc. This represents
      a contribution of around £90 million per annum to the rural economy based upon the
      conservative estimate of 30,000 horses in Cheshire. Surveys of the economic
      contribution of walkers, cyclists and horse riders using the Pennine Way in 1997 for
      the Countryside Agency showed that horse riders contributed an additional £1m per
      year to the local economies because of the Pennine Trail. Tourism and recreational
      use of the countryside by horse riders have a significant part to play in developing and
      maintaining a thriving rural economy. This strategy can contribute to that development.

      1.4     Many of the County Council's services have an impact on horse riders and
      carriage drivers. As a highway authority the County Council is responsible for the
      provision of a safe and efficient road network and for the management of the public
      rights of way network. It is also responsible, as the surveying authority, for maintaining
      an accurate legal record of the bridleway and byway network. In producing this
      equestrian strategy the County Council acknowledges the need to take a balanced
      approach to the provision and maintenance of the highway and public rights of way

      1.5     Many of the problems encountered by equestrians when using the road
      network are common to all other vulnerable road users such as safety, crossing of
      heavily trafficked roads or high speed roads. Therefore the principles adopted within
      this strategy can assist other vulnerable road users as well as benefiting the horse
      rider and carriage driver.

      1.6     This Strategy sets out the broad principles for providing for the equestrian. It is
      the intention to include details of any specific improvements to off-road routes within
      the Rights of Way Improvement Plan. In this way, the improvements for different types
      of Rights of Way and user can be seen in context with all other proposals.

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      2      Policy and National Initiatives

      2.1     There are a number of Government policies and national and regional initiatives
      that influence the provision for the equestrian. Set out below are a number of the more
      significant initiatives.

      Transport Act 2000

      2.2   The Transport Act recognises the need for an inclusive approach to rural traffic
      management through initiatives such as the Countryside Agency's Quiet Lanes project
      and puts legislation in place for this initiative to be introduced in any local authority

      Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000

      2.3    The requirement which the Act places on local authorities to produce a Rights
      of Way Improvement Plan (ROWIP) should assist in the development of a more
      integrated network of routes for riders across Cheshire and improved information and

      Our Countryside: The Future (Rural White Paper 2000)

      2.4  The Rural White Paper recognises the need to help all sections of the
      community to enjoy the countryside through leisure activities such as horse riding.

      Transport in Tomorrow’s Countryside

      2.5    The Countryside Agency sets out its vision for the future for transport in the
      countryside in its report - Transport in Tomorrow’s Countryside. The report sets out
      ten principles for transport. One of the ten principles is to ensure “people should feel
      safe and secure when travelling in the rural area”. This principle applies to all forms of
      transport; walking, cycling, public transport and horse riders, as well as car drivers.
      The Countryside Agency has worked with local communities to develop the “quiet
      lanes” initiative to improve safety. National trials in Norfolk and Kent that involved
      public consultation as part of the scheme development has increased the ease with
      which footpaths, bridleways and roads with low traffic levels can be used by non-
      motorised users.

      Countryside Agency’s Lost Ways Project

      2.6     The Countryside Agency are promoting a project to research and rediscover
      lost ways in terms of historic rights of way that are missing from local authority
      “definitive maps of rights of way”. The Countryside Agency has established an ‘archive
      research unit’ to gather the necessary documentary evidence relating to lost ways,
      and has identified two local authorities to form ‘lead areas’; Wiltshire and Cheshire.
      The objective is to ensure the user rights recorded on local authority definitive maps
      reflect those in force prior to 1949 National Parks and Access to the Countryside Act.
      Any rights that existed prior to 1949 and are not recorded will expire after 2026. It is
      believed that many footpaths should be reclassified as bridleways, as they were used

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      by horse riders prior to 1949. The project is designed to establish where this was the
      case through the research of a variety of historic documentation.

      National Bridle Route Network

      2.7     The British Horse Society (BHS) is working to create a national bridle route
      network for horse riders to mirror the National Cycle Network for cyclists. Over time
      this will build into a comprehensive network of community circuits linked together by
      linear routes.

      National Cycle Network

      2.8    Much work has been done across the Country to develop a national cycle
      network. The principle adopted by Sustrans for the off-road sections of the network is
      one of up-grading the routes for a variety of different users, where possible. In
      Cheshire, money has been spent on up-grading the Wirral Way for cyclists, walkers
      and horse riders. Other examples across Cheshire, where this has either happened or
      is programmed to occur, are the Wheelock Rail Trail, the Biddulph Valley Way and the
      Middlewood Way.

      Rural Recovery Plan

      2.9     Since the 2001 foot and mouth epidemic, efforts have been made to promote
      farm diversification and sustainable tourism. Horse riding and carriage driving tourism
      have a contribution to make to the rural recovery programme. Horse riding contributes
      significantly towards the rural economy.

      Quiet Lanes and Greenways

      2.10 The Countryside Agency is promoting both “quiet lanes” and greenways to
      promote improved road safety for the non motorised user. Within Cheshire there is a
      pilot project to introduce “quiet lanes” into the Macclesfield Forest area. A borough-
      wide draft Greenways Strategy has been developed for Vale Royal to identify a
      coherent approach to the provision of Greenways, to enhance the mainly off-road
      routes for walkers, cyclist and horse riders. Once these two schemes are implemented
      they would contribute significantly to providing a wider network for the horse rider and
      carriage driver.

      3      Existing Conditions

      3.1     Based on national figures, it is estimated that there are at least 30,000 horse
      riders and about 200 carriage drivers across the County. This is a conservative
      estimate, since there are locations, such as the metropolitan areas, where there are
      fewer horse riders than average. In rural counties such as Cheshire, it is likely that
      there is a higher than average number of riders. It is recognised that this is a very
      simplistic measure of the number of horses; there is no formal census of horses and
      no accurate figures are available. However, it does demonstrate that there are a
      significant number of horses that could potentially use the roads of Cheshire.

      3.2     The Mid-Cheshire Bridleway Association (MCBA) co-ordinated a survey of
      riders from the winter of 2001 to April 2002. A variety of methods was used to

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      distribute the survey questionnaire, from distributing the questionnaire with the news
      letter to placing them in riding or livery stables. The survey was carried out to find out
      about horse riding activities in Cheshire. This survey built upon an earlier survey
      carried out by the MCBA and neighbouring bridleway associations in 2001, and was
      undertaken to highlight the issues for horse riders, particularly the fragmented nature
      of the bridleway network. No similar survey has been undertaken by the local group of
      the British (Carriage) Driving Society. However, telephone discussions were held with
      both the local Commissioner for the British Driving Society and the Executive
      Secretary of the Society.

      3.3    The 2002 survey report was based upon 401 valid completed questionnaires.
      Such a survey gives a useful insight into how riders use the road system and
      bridleways when participating in the leisure activity of horse riding. The results of this
      survey are summarised in paragraphs 3.4 to 3.8 below.

      Results of the Bridleway Survey

      3.4     The MCBA survey suggests that horse riders in Cheshire keep their horses well
      exercised with nine out of ten respondents riding more than once a week in the
      summer, while six out of ten riders exercise their horses more than once a week in the
      winter. Some 96% of riders ride out from where they stable their horse, despite the
      fact that three-quarters of those responding to the survey have regular use of a trailer.
      Only three people in ten use their trailer or horsebox at least once a week to transport
      their horse.

      3.5    Three-quarters of respondents spent between one and one and a half hours
      riding when they went out. The rest spent more than an hour and a half each time
      they went out. Just over 30% of riders spent this time entirely on the road network and
      did not use bridleways or ’off-road’ routes. This is not surprising when over 30% of
      riders either do not have a bridleway near where they stable their horse or the nearest
      bridleways are over three miles away. The majority of riders (93%) travel along B, C or
      unclassified roads although 70% of riders had to cross A class roads (either single
      carriageway or dual carriageway roads).

      3.6    The respondents were asked to identify three hazards of most concern from a
      standard list of eight hazards for both ‘on-road’ and ‘off-road’ routes. The hazard of
      most concern to riders on the road was perceived as the speed of traffic. Some 94%
      of respondents listed this hazard. The next hazard of most concern was the attitude of
      drivers with 61% of riders expressing this as a concern. The third hazard of most
      concern was slippery road surfaces and this was mentioned by just over half of the
      respondents. The consultation exercise revealed that the prominence of this hazard
      varied depending upon where in the County the riders came from. In comparison
      hidden drainage gullies and cracked covers etc were relatively low down on the list of
      hazards of concern to riders, with less than 10% of respondents mentioning each of
      these hazards.

      3.7     The concerns of riders along the ‘off-road’ routes and bridleways were more
      geared to access and maintenance. Riders were most concerned about “overgrown
      undergrowth” (e.g. nettles, grass) and low trees. Some 68% of respondents indicated
      that this was one of the three hazards of most concern to them. Blockages,
      obstructions and poor drainage were the next hazards of most concern. Some 53% of

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      respondents identified blockages as a major area of concern and 56% of respondents
      identified poor drainage as a major issue. The lack of physical barriers at the ends of
      paths was not a concern to many riders; it was mentioned by only 7% of riders.
      Missing bridges (on bridleways) were only of concern to 10% of riders while ploughing
      and crops along the bridleway were of concern to 9% of riders. However, about half of
      riders considered that litter was a problem in the form of broken glass and cans
      because it could cause injuries to their horses.

      3.8    Less than 1 in every 10 riders had been involved in a road traffic accident with
      a motor vehicle in the last five years. This is a good safety record (in comparison to
      vehicle accidents) and perhaps reflects the fact that 80% of riders wear high visibility
      clothing whilst out riding. However, 60% of horse riders consider they have been
      involved in a “near miss” in the last five years. In addition 7 in every 10 riders have
      suffered either physical or verbal intimidation from drivers whilst out riding.

      Crash Statistics involving Equestrians from 1990 to 2004 in Cheshire

      3.9    The good safety record found in the MCBA survey is reflected in the police
      accident statistics for the ten year period 1990 to 1999, when there were some 28
      personal injury crashes across Cheshire involving horses and their riders, or horses
      and carriages. There were 16 personal injury crashes involving a rider and horse (or
      carriage) from 1999 to 2004 and a further 3 crashes involving just horses and vehicles
      on the carriageway. In terms of accidents per year this is showing a slight worsening
      of the annual rate compared to the pervious 10 years, (although the period is only half
      as long and this needs to be taken into account).

      3.10 The most common cause of accidents involving a horse is overtaking, with just
      under half of all crashes involving horses attributed to overtaking. The majority of the
      accidents were on B, C or unclassified roads and this reflects the fact that riders prefer
      riding on these types of road.

      3.11 Just over 50% of the causalities in the 10 year period were under 24 years of
      age, with slightly more in the 10 to 15 year old category than the 16 to 24 year old
      category. This would suggest that there is a need to promote road safety among the
      younger, and perhaps less experienced, age group of horse riders.

      The Road Network and Equestrian Activity Across Cheshire

      3.12 The map below shows the location on the road network of the main roads used
      by riders as prepared by the Bridleway Associations. The survey is by no means
      comprehensive. However, it does give an idea of the extent of the road network used
      by riders across Cheshire. In addition the location of the livery stables, riding stables,
      tack shops, feed stores and private stabling for horses is shown.

      3.13 No information was available about the activity of carriage drivers in Cheshire.
      However, the majority of roads that are suitable for horse riding are likely to be
      suitable for carriage driving as well.

      3.14 The map shows the location of over 120 livery yards, over 15 riding stables
      across Cheshire and at least two large scale equestrian centres in east Cheshire.

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                Locations of promoted and off - road horse riding routes and facilities
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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           Y            #               A523
                                                                                                                                     #                                                                           #                                                        Knutsford                             #
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                                                                                                                                                                                                                             5                                                    0                                                   5                                             10                  15 Miles

                                                                       Off - road routes                                                                                                                                                                                                                   Motorways
                                                                       On - road routes                                                                                                                                                                                                                'A' class roads
                                                   #                   Stables and livery yards

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      3.15 Crossing of busy roads was not within the list of eight hazards consulted upon
      by MCBA. However, the provision of safe crossing facilities of busy roads was
      identified by at least one consultee during the consultation process as being a major
      difficulty in establishing long distance bridleways.

      3.16 During consultation on the strategy a common theme that came through was
      the need to provide vehicle driver education and to promote road safety skills among
      the younger age group (below 24) of horse riders. This highlights the need for
      consistent training to the highest standards and the benefits of the BHS horse riding
      proficiency tests, particularly the ‘Riding and Road Safety’ test.

      4      Aim & Objectives

      The County Council's aim is to:

      Enable equestrian activity to take place safely across Cheshire on the road and
      bridleway network through the promotion of regional, county and local bridle route
      networks within the framework of the development of a Rights of Way Improvement

      To do this we will:

      1      Promote, within the framework of the Public Rights of Way Improvement Plan,
      a series of predominately ‘off road’ circular and linear routes of both local and regional

      2      Give full consideration to the needs of equestrians when developing new
      highway maintenance policies and strategies, (and reviewing existing ones) where
      possible within the limitations of operational and financial constraints (eg: grass cutting
      policies along sections of road verge that link two bridleways).

      3     Give full consideration to the needs of equestrians when designing new
      highways and improving existing highways.

      4       Introduce signing along equestrian routes in accordance with current signing
      legislation to increase road safety.

      5      Provide equestrian crossing facilities (eg: a Pegasus, or improved visibility of
      the crossing point) where appropriate and justified.

      6      Assist planning authorities to develop policies for new or modified
      developments related to equestrian businesses so that they provide suitable routes,
      predominantly off-road for riders and/or carriage drivers. Such facilities must be
      provided by the developer along with any signing or crossing facilities of roads, as
      considered necessary for the safe and efficient operation of the highway network.

      7      Work with partners (eg: Bridleway Groups) to raise awareness of equestrian
      issues and endeavour to support national campaigns for road safety training related to
      horse riding and carriage driving, and also promote respect between all types of road

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      8.    Develop effective consultation mechanisms with local rider and carriage driving
      group and the Local Access Forum, to implement and monitor the strategy.

      9.     Identify funding opportunities to support the effective implementation of the


Objective                  Success Indicator                   Measuring Success
1. Promote, within the        Bridleway                          ROWIP Action
framework of the Rights      improvement plan                    Plan.
of Way Improvement           included within the
Plan (ROWIP), a series       ROWIP Action Plan.
of predominately off-road
circular and linear routes    Development of                       Leaflets describing
of both local and regional   circular and linear routes            circular and linear
importance.                  for equestrians.                      equestrian routes
                                                                   within Cheshire.

2. Give full consideration          Modify policy and              Quality procedures
to the needs of                    quality procedures to           modified to incorporate
equestrians when                   widen consultation              needs of equestrians,
developing new                     procedures within the           PROW and bridleway
maintenance policies and           Engineering Service to          associations.
strategies, and reviewing          include Public Rights of
existing ones, where               Way and Bridleway                Policies and
possible within the                Groups as appropriate.          strategies
limitations of operational                                         acknowledge needs of
and financial constraints.                                         equestrians.

3. Give full consideration          Relevant bridleway             Planning
to the needs of                    groups are formally             documentation.
equestrians when                   consulted at planning
designing new highways             stage.                           Results of
and improving existing                                             consultations showing
highways.                                                          the comments of
                                                                   Equestrian groups.

4. Introduce signing                Review signing                 Signing of regional
along equestrian routes            requirements of ROWIP.          bridleways both
in accordance with                                                 advisory and warning
current signing legislation                                        signs.
to increase road safety.

5. Provide equestrian               Assessment                     Introduction of new
crossing facilities (e.g.          techniques for                  crossings for horses
Pegasus) where                     determining appropriate         and their riders.
appropriate and justified.         crossing types for

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Objective                         Success Indicator               Measuring Success
6. Assist planning                 New equestrian                 Planning approvals
authorities to develop            facilities incorporating        to include condition to
policies for new or               more off-road equestrian        provide off-road routes
modified developments             routes and permissive           for equestrians where
related to equestrian             routes off road.                appropriate.
businesses so that they
provide suitable routes,
predominantly off-road
for riders and/or carriage

7. Work with partners              Dissemination of the           Minutes of meetings
(e.g. Bridleway Groups            Strategy within the
etc) to raise awareness           relevant local authority
of equestrian issues and          departments across
endeavour to support              Cheshire.
national campaigns for             Recommendations to             Letter &
road    safety    training        the national driving test       recommendations
related to horse riding           centre.
and carriage driving, and          Identifying                    Letter to road safety
also promote respect              equestrians as 'other           officers
between all types of road         road users' in school
users.                            based road safety
                                  initiatives.                     Increase numbers
                                   Promote                       tested
                                  riding/carriage driving
8. Develop effective               Attendance at PROW             Minutes of meetings
consultation mechanisms           Forums and Local                and correspondence
with local riders groups          Access Forum as                 with Bridleway Groups.
and carriage driving              necessary.
groups and the Local
Access Forum to
implement and monitor
the strategy.

9. Identify funding                Funds raised for the           Approvals for
opportunities to support          provision of equestrian         funding applications for
the effective                     facilities.                     equestrian facilities
implementation of the                                             and improvements, or
Strategy                                                          widening use to include
                                                                  equestrians of off-road
                                                                  facilities funded from
                                                                  sources external to
                                                                  County Council

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5       Contacts

    Objective      Service Responsible                     Contact Details
    1&9            Rural & Recreation                      Jane Krause
                                                           Tel 01606 541820

                   PROW & Countryside Management           Dave Kitching
                                                           Tel 01606 541805

    2              Engineering Service
                                                           Kevin Carrol
                                                           Tel 01244 603652

    3, 5, 6 & 9    Engineering Service                     John Gray
                   Area Engineers                          Congleton & Macclesfield
                                                           Tel 01244 603572

                                                           Arthur Shapcott
                                                           Crewe and Nantwich & Vale Royal
                                                           Tel 01244 603770

                                                           Charles Lloyd
                                                           Chester and Ellesmere Port &
                   Accident Investigation and              Tel 01244 603578
                                                           Neil Edgar
                                                           Tel 01244 603619
                                                           Engineering (Road Safety -
                                                           Accident investigation and

    4, 7 & 8       Rural & Recreation                      Jane Krause
                                                           Tel 01606 541820

                                                           Dave Kitching
                                                           Tel 01606 541805

                   Engineering (Road Safety–               John Rickets
                   Education, Training and Publicity)      Tel 01244 603666

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