Advice on responding to DEFRAs consultation on the Landscapes Review - Commercial

    We’d like to begin by saying thank you!

    Your business supplies services and products that are important to us and our members and for that we are truly grateful.

    Now we would like to help you by offering our support and advice on how to address a threat that will affect anyone in the 4x4 community with an interest in using the unsurfaced and minor road network.

    Many of your customers will use their vehicles on the green lane network, but this is now under serious threat and we need your help to tackle it.

    We are very concerned about what wider implications reducing the minor road network will have on commercial businesses who cater to 4x4 drivers. Without the ability to use their vehicles off tarmac many people may decide they no longer need them, the requirement for parts, modifications, and other accessories will inevitably be reduced with the road network itself. This will have a significant impact on businesses already hit hard by Covid and Brexit.  

    The Landscapes Review looks at the future management of National Parks and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty. On the surface it talks of making the countryside more accessible to all, no one user group is specifically mentioned and the over-arching message appears to be inclusive of all.

    Unfortunately, the Government response to the Review explicitly targeted motorised users, and the ensuing DEFRA consultation is asking the public if we should further restrict or even ban motorised access, not only to green lanes but the minor surfaced road network.

    Slowly laws are being used for purposes they were not created for, pressure on countryside access is mounting, and our oldest rights and unspoiled ways are at risk. Cries ring out to prohibit motorised use of the minor road network, residents have found their village roads no longer open to them, disabled users are faced with a reductionist “management” strategy, and recreational users face blatant bias over their choice of method of travel.

    Thankfully we all get the opportunity to respond to the public consultation. While the Green Lane AssociationTrail Riders Fellowship, and their umbrella organisations such as LARA and the NMC are working hard on technical responses, it is now time for users to make their voices heard.

    This is an extensive review and a complex matter, but we have created a simplified advice guide on how to respond. YOU are the experts on what you do, YOUR opinions matter and should form part of the decision making process.

    The Review: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/designated-landscapes-national-parks-and-aonbs-2018-review

    The government response: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/landscapes-review-national-parks-and-aonbs-government-response/landscapes-review-national-parks-and-aonbs-government-response

    The consultation questionnaire: https://consult.defra.gov.uk/future-landscapes-strategy/government-response-to-the-landscapes-review/

    To access the press release by the Land Access and Recreation Association (LARA) and the National Motorcyclists Council (NMC) go to:  https://glass-uk.org/latest-news/glass-work-with-lara-nmc.html

    Our advice on how to respond:

    There are two ways to respond:

    1. by an online questionnaire, or
    2. by emailing your response to DEFRA’s consultation letter.

    The online questionnaire

    The online questionnaire is DEFRA’s preferred way of responding because it is more structured and easier to analyse responses – for them. If it is easier for you to email instead please do so using the guidance below.

    Like all online questionnaires it has to be worked though question by question.

    Whilst you may want to respond on other aspects of the consultation, DEFRA say that it is perfectly acceptable to respond only on the questions in the ‘managing visitor pressures’ section, which contains the motor vehicles questions.

    Once you have filled in your personal details it takes about 4-5 clicks to get to the ‘managing visitor pressures’ section and so therefore should be relatively easy.

    Emailing your response

    DEFRA says that you may email your response using the address given in the Defra letter: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

    If you choose to email your response:

    • Clearly state which questions you are responding to (questions 13 to 17)
    • Emails may be rejected if they do not clearly correspond to specific questions

    Clearly state in the subject line that you are responding to the DEFRA Landscapes Review.

    Suggestions to include:

    Explain your views in your own words, your experiences matter. Here are some examples of what you could describe in your response.

    • Explain your professional interest in the issue
    • Describe how your business is reliant on 4x4 vehicles that are owned by your customers because of their recreational motoring pass times 
    • Explain the benefits your customers gain from motoring
    • Explain who buys from your business, show how varied our community is
    • Outline the financial implications to you, your staff, and the economy at large. Every penny your customers spend is put back into the UK economy. How many jobs could be lost? How will this affect you and those who work for you?
    • If any of your customers have additional needs that mean using a vehicle is vital, explain why motoring is essential to them and the benefits motorised access gives them
    • If you have any relevant professional interests, memberships, or qualifications make sure to include these
    • Be an advocate for access without prejudice, make your arguments positive and in favour of access for ALL

    For further general advice go to: https://glass-uk.org/latest-news/defra-consultation.html

    Those opposed to motor-vehicle use will certainly aim to respond in large numbers and so we need to counter that potential threat.

    Please encourage your customers to respond personally too, the more who do the stronger our case becomes.

    Submit your response before 9th April 2022 to make your voice heard and opinions matter!