Consultation about vehicle rights along The Ridgeway in Oxfordshire

1st March 2018

Oxfordshire County Council are informally consulting interested parties on 32 applications to legally record public rights for mechanically propelled vehicles (MPVs) on numerous routes in Oxfordshire, including many miles of The Ridgeway National Trail in the county (approximately 19 miles of the total 36 miles in Oxfordshire). The Swan’s Way, which serves as a valuable riding link for The Ridgeway, is also affected.

The four applications* relating to The Ridgeway were submitted by representatives of the Trail Riders Fellowship, an organisation which promotes responsible off road motorbike/'trail bike' riding ( These applications relate to ‘restricted byway’ sections of The Ridgeway - restricted byways are open to walkers, cyclists, horseriders and carriage drivers (horse-drawn carriage). The applicants seek to 'upgrade' the current status to one which permits MPVs – ‘byway open to all traffic’ or BOAT. (It should be noted that private vehicular rights are not affected by these applications, e.g. farmers accessing fields off The Ridgeway.)

The applications were made under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1980 which enables any person to apply for a ‘Definitive Map Modification Order’ to correct the legal record of a public rights of way (e.g. its status), as long as they have evidence to show that it needs correcting. The Natural Environment and Rural Communities (NERC) Act 2006 sets out particular circumstances (‘exceptions’) allowing public rights for mechanically propelled vehicles to be asserted. The council has a duty to investigate these applications and must do so in relation to the legal tests. More details about the legal framework can be found in the consultation documents but it is significant to note that adverse effects of vehicle use are not a consideration. This consultation is part of a step-by-step process – this step is looking at the ‘exceptions’ under subsection 67(2) of the NERC Act 2006.

Consultation documents are available on the Oxfordshire County Council's consultation webpage: An explanatory note has been produced and further details of the process are available here: The consultation closes on Tuesday 20th March 2018.

The Ridgeway Partnership has been sent consultation documents so that its various partner organisations and individuals can take part. The Ridgeway Officer will be responding. The council has also sent papers to landowners, parish councils, county councillors, amenity groups and other interested parties.

Amongst the interested parties is the charity Friends of the Ridgeway which has a history of campaigning to protect The Ridgeway from damaging vehicle use ( The Friends are taking part in the consultation, making a representation on behalf of their members and encouraging others to engage too.

*Application 02008, 02010, 02012 and 02024 include sections of The Ridgeway. Application 02047 relates to a restricted byway crossing The Ridgeway near Chinnor.

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