Thursday, 16 August 2018
CCW TREADlightly Seminar report PDF Print E-mail

Motorised Recreation in the Countryside and ‘treadlightly!’

A seminar and workshop was facilitated by CCW in February to explore opportunities to contribute to the management of motorised recreation in the countryside through encouraging responsible behaviour.

Motorised recreation in the countryside, both on motor bikes and in four-wheel drive vehicles, is currently a contentious issue in the U.K. Diverging opinions on what is or is not an appropriate recreational activity to undertake on un-paved roads, and other countryside routes have made it very difficult to approach the issue of encouraging responsible behaviour. Often those participating within the law are ostracised along with those acting illegally and/or irresponsibly. The resulting stand-off makes it extremely difficult to achieve a balance between all recreational users’ reasonable enjoyment and the protection of the environment.

The Wales Off-Road Motorcycling Steering Group (WORMS), a Welsh Assembly Government supported partnership of key stakeholders in Wales,identified three key themes offering routes to progress, namely:

  •     Effective enforcement of existing laws
  •     Provision/management of appropriate byways
  •     Responsible Use & Education

The focus of this seminar and workshops was on the third area with development potential identified by WORMS. This involved:

  •     briefly exploring the current policy and practise around motorised recreation in the countryside
  •     showcasing examples of successful projects in Wales with significant educational and training elements aimed at delivering behavioural and attitude improvements and reducing conflict
  •     looking in some detail at the treadlightly! programme, as a mechanism for users, agencies and landowners to work together to find a durable solution to the issues surrounding motorised recreation
  •     agreeing ways to move forward

The meeting at the Royal Welsh Showground was opened by Mick Bates AM, Chairman of the Sustainability Scrutiny Committee at the National Assembly for Wales. Participants at the event included motorised recreation user groups, those with landowning interests, land managers, farming unions, other users of the countryside, local authorities and national park authorities, Forestry Commission Wales, the police and others with an interest in the subject.
CCW took on the role of facilitating the seminar and workshop so that all stakeholders could benefit from a broader and deeper understanding of the issues involved and share insights. The hope was that progress could be made towards robust and holistic solutions to improving responsible motorised recreational use of the countryside that are appropriate across Wales and the U.K. During the planning of the seminar CCW worked with representatives of the Green Lane Association (GLASS), Countryside Recreation Access Group (CRAG) and the Trail Riders Fellowship (TRF) who had brought to our attention the positive contribution made by treadlightly! in tackling similar issues in the U.S.A.

The U.S. Government set up treadlightly! in 1985 as an educational programme and it has gained widespread support across the U.S.A. and attracted significant corporate sponsorship. This has enabled the programme to develop training and education programmes to promote good practice amongst motorised recreational users. For further information please look at the U.S. website -

The event was summed up by Rob Owen, CCW’s Head of Access, Recreation and Communications as follows.
“A number of key points have come out from our deliberations:

  •     It is essential to have an integrated approach, in other words there has to be a mixture of Education, Enforcement and Provision. Without suitable Provision, our efforts will only lead to displacement and a lot of police time and effort will achieve relatively little.
  •     We cannot begin to tackle this complex and contentious issue without partnerships which are robust and operate at: National, Regional and Local levels. At the same time, it is essential that there is interaction between these levels i.e. that that a strong steer from WAG, CCW and the Forestry Commission informs Regional approaches, such as the Cambrian Mountains project; and at the same time the experiences of practical projects on the ground informs higher level decision-making.
  •     And that takes us to the ever-present issue of Funding. Projects can be cost-neutral, as the Cardiff project has demonstrated. But there is still a need to pump-prime to get good projects off the ground. It may be that urban projects can move more swiftly to cover their costs, than say more rural initiatives, where the issues are more disparate. The funding provided by WAG for exemplar projects some two years ago has generated a lot of activity - and we need to take stock of the lessons learnt from this.
  •     Our discussions have focussed on the problems associated with provision and it is obvious that there are complex issues that need to be resolved here, in terms of planning, local opposition and whether routes and sites cater for local demand, or whether they attract use form further away. These are not issues that can be tackled easily – and are ones that require sensitivity and balance.
  •     And finally, and perhaps most importantly of all, without political will, from central Government and locally, we are unlikely to be able to push for sustainable solutions.

I think there are two scenarios that can emerge from our deliberations to date, either: this agenda is taken on further and the good-will and energy demonstrated at this event is harnessed to find practical cost-effective solutions; or the momentum is lost and the problems on the ground escalate. The latter scenario will inevitably be much more expensive for Government and society. I hope therefore that we can increase our collective efforts in tackling this issue.”

For more information contact:
Linda Ashton: tel: (01686) 613412; e-mail: This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it
or Michael Smith: tel: (01686) 613418; e-mail: This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it