A new advisory panel on forest access, set up by the Government after the U-turn on the national forest sell off, has no one to represent after cyclists interests.
Cyclists have been left out of the panel – which includes representation for the National Trust, RSPB, Ramblers and other associations – despite playing a significant role in the protests at the forest sell off proposal earlier this year. The Government axed plans for the sale after lobbying from a number of groups, including the CTC, an online petition from 38 degrees and widespread outcry at the proposal.
The 'U-turn' is not as clear cut as the term suggests as plans are still in place to sell 40,000 hectares – the equivalent of 15 per cent of the Forestry Commission estate.
Lord Windermere, a key figure in the forest access campaign, has urged the Government to rethink the omission, while Kate Ashbrook of Open Spaces Society has blasted the decision not to include cyclists (or horse riders) on the panel as lamentable.
“Whilst it’s good to see that the panel has expert representation from across a range sectors, it’s disappointing that there isn’t better representation of recreational groups, and cyclists in particular," blasted Ian Warby, CTC’s senior off-road officer.
"With England’s forests playing an increasingly important role in the wellbeing of the nation through the recreational opportunities they offer, it’s crucial that everyone using the forests has a voice on this panel. CTC will continue pressing for the voice of cyclists to be heard within the panel.”
Roger Geffen, Campaigns and Policy Director at CTC added: “We understood that CTC’s off-road advisor Colin Palmer had been suggested by Department for Environment officials for possible inclusion on the panel, so it is particularly disappointing to see cyclists being left out altogether.”