heathland “protection” or a cash cow for vested interests?

I must confess a vested interest since we are affected by the arbitrary "rule" in respect of development close to heathland.

Natural England, who have acquired the role of Statutory Consultees on any planning application, have decided, in their wisdom, that there should not be any residential development within 400m of heathland and that any development between 400m and 5km should attract a levy of up to £1500 to finance the maintenance of the heath, which they assure us, are put at serious risk by the increase in visitor numbers together with their pets – apparently dog fascaes "enriches" the soil too much; cats are predatory on one the very few species that inhabit what is a very poor ecological habitat, whilst the feet of human visitors damages the fragile soil and vegetation. Despite several requests they have been unable or unwilling to provide me with the independent research that led them to their conclusions, and to the resultant significant bar to the provision of/increase in cost of much needed housing.

Interestingly the revenue from the levy, or "lizard tax" as it is affectionately known locally, is to be used in part to "improve access" for vistors to the heaths, thereby adding to the perceived problem!

Furthermore there appears to be a fundamental Human Rights issue, since the protection of the heathland is affecting land outside of the heathland boundary. That this is based on spurious, and undisclosed, evidence is undemocratic and grossly unfair. Natural England and others have a vested interest, often a very narrow interest, in promoting themselves to secure revenue and grants, which, in this instance, act directly and unfairly against other policies, most particularly the need for more housing. Using public funds to impede public interest.

Why is this idea important?

I must confess a vested interest since we are affected by the arbitrary "rule" in respect of development close to heathland.

Natural England, who have acquired the role of Statutory Consultees on any planning application, have decided, in their wisdom, that there should not be any residential development within 400m of heathland and that any development between 400m and 5km should attract a levy of up to £1500 to finance the maintenance of the heath, which they assure us, are put at serious risk by the increase in visitor numbers together with their pets – apparently dog fascaes "enriches" the soil too much; cats are predatory on one the very few species that inhabit what is a very poor ecological habitat, whilst the feet of human visitors damages the fragile soil and vegetation. Despite several requests they have been unable or unwilling to provide me with the independent research that led them to their conclusions, and to the resultant significant bar to the provision of/increase in cost of much needed housing.

Interestingly the revenue from the levy, or "lizard tax" as it is affectionately known locally, is to be used in part to "improve access" for vistors to the heaths, thereby adding to the perceived problem!

Furthermore there appears to be a fundamental Human Rights issue, since the protection of the heathland is affecting land outside of the heathland boundary. That this is based on spurious, and undisclosed, evidence is undemocratic and grossly unfair. Natural England and others have a vested interest, often a very narrow interest, in promoting themselves to secure revenue and grants, which, in this instance, act directly and unfairly against other policies, most particularly the need for more housing. Using public funds to impede public interest.

Motor Caravan Aires and Wild Camping in suitable locations

Permitting Motor Caravans to park in locations other than licenced or exempted caravan sites will require the Public Health Act 1937 section 286 and The Caravan Sites and Control of Development Act 1960 being ammended.

THe 1937 Act defines what constitues a caravan and the 1960 Act requires that Caravan Sites are licenced or carry an exemption issued by certain clubs and bodies. A Caravan is defined as being a vehicle or vessel that has been built or adapted for human habitation and does not recognise a difference between a Static, Touring(trailer) or Motor Caravan.

Modern Motor Caravans are totaly different and contain superior sanitary and habitation equipment to those envisaged in the 1930s and 1950s. Motor Caravans are in fact luxury hotels on wheels these days with Bedrooms, Kitchens and bathrooms with hot water and showers and sealed toilets.

A recognition that a motor caravan parking overnight does not need the same facilities as a touring caravan is required.

A recognition of the diference between camping and parking (including using the vehicle for cooking and sleeping) is required.

Motor Caravans are much heavier than touring caravans and existing grass caravan sites can prove unsuitable for them in wet weather. A Motor Caravan simply needs a firm level surface to park on and from time to time access to basic facilities for drinking water and to dispose of wet and dry waste.

Camping as defined in regulations for Camping Cars abroard is putting anything including Tables, Chairs, steps, waste and water containers, Awnings, ramps etc outside of the vehicle. There are no restrictions on what you can do within a parked vehicle.

Modern Motor Caravans are totaly self contained and only need facilities to get fresh water and dump black and grey water every few days. They are designed to carry these loads unlike touring caravans.

Local Authorities have the power at present to allow Aire type stopovers on land owned or leased by them under section 11 of the 1960 Act. Few have used this power.

Britain is unfriendly to visiting motor caravan users as we require them to join one of our clubs to use a reasonably priced Certificated site or some of the club sites. Otherwise thay need to use highly priced commercial or club sites.

We can enjoy using our Motor Caravans abroad without such restrictions using the many municipal and private Aires available at very low or even no cost other than a couple of Euros to obtain drinking water.

It has been recognised since the 1960s abroard that Motor Caravan users bring trade into areas they visit, as they need to buy supplies and will use and visit local amenities and eating places. It is time the UK recognised this and became more welcoming to travelling visitors. Many of our authorities are still in the B&B mindset with regards to taking holidays, or are "Traveller" phobic.

Action needed:

Examine and revoke or re-write the 1937 and 1960 acts to bring them into line with todays developments.

Instruct local authorities to remove restrictions preventing the use for cooking and sleeping in parked Motor Caravans.

A recognition that a motor caravan parking overnight does not need the same facilities as a touring caravan is required.

A recognition of the difference between camping and parking (including using the vehicle for cooking and sleeping) is required.

Require local Authorities to make use of existing underused parking spaces at night such as Coach Bays or car parks to permit the overnight parking of Motor Caravans.

Remove height barriers from some parts of otherwise restricted car parks so that larger vehicles can gain access. (Restrictions could still apply to the type of use to which these spaces are permitted to be used for ie no commercial vehicles or trading, and the lenght of stay permitted).

Why is this idea important?

Permitting Motor Caravans to park in locations other than licenced or exempted caravan sites will require the Public Health Act 1937 section 286 and The Caravan Sites and Control of Development Act 1960 being ammended.

THe 1937 Act defines what constitues a caravan and the 1960 Act requires that Caravan Sites are licenced or carry an exemption issued by certain clubs and bodies. A Caravan is defined as being a vehicle or vessel that has been built or adapted for human habitation and does not recognise a difference between a Static, Touring(trailer) or Motor Caravan.

Modern Motor Caravans are totaly different and contain superior sanitary and habitation equipment to those envisaged in the 1930s and 1950s. Motor Caravans are in fact luxury hotels on wheels these days with Bedrooms, Kitchens and bathrooms with hot water and showers and sealed toilets.

A recognition that a motor caravan parking overnight does not need the same facilities as a touring caravan is required.

A recognition of the diference between camping and parking (including using the vehicle for cooking and sleeping) is required.

Motor Caravans are much heavier than touring caravans and existing grass caravan sites can prove unsuitable for them in wet weather. A Motor Caravan simply needs a firm level surface to park on and from time to time access to basic facilities for drinking water and to dispose of wet and dry waste.

Camping as defined in regulations for Camping Cars abroard is putting anything including Tables, Chairs, steps, waste and water containers, Awnings, ramps etc outside of the vehicle. There are no restrictions on what you can do within a parked vehicle.

Modern Motor Caravans are totaly self contained and only need facilities to get fresh water and dump black and grey water every few days. They are designed to carry these loads unlike touring caravans.

Local Authorities have the power at present to allow Aire type stopovers on land owned or leased by them under section 11 of the 1960 Act. Few have used this power.

Britain is unfriendly to visiting motor caravan users as we require them to join one of our clubs to use a reasonably priced Certificated site or some of the club sites. Otherwise thay need to use highly priced commercial or club sites.

We can enjoy using our Motor Caravans abroad without such restrictions using the many municipal and private Aires available at very low or even no cost other than a couple of Euros to obtain drinking water.

It has been recognised since the 1960s abroard that Motor Caravan users bring trade into areas they visit, as they need to buy supplies and will use and visit local amenities and eating places. It is time the UK recognised this and became more welcoming to travelling visitors. Many of our authorities are still in the B&B mindset with regards to taking holidays, or are "Traveller" phobic.

Action needed:

Examine and revoke or re-write the 1937 and 1960 acts to bring them into line with todays developments.

Instruct local authorities to remove restrictions preventing the use for cooking and sleeping in parked Motor Caravans.

A recognition that a motor caravan parking overnight does not need the same facilities as a touring caravan is required.

A recognition of the difference between camping and parking (including using the vehicle for cooking and sleeping) is required.

Require local Authorities to make use of existing underused parking spaces at night such as Coach Bays or car parks to permit the overnight parking of Motor Caravans.

Remove height barriers from some parts of otherwise restricted car parks so that larger vehicles can gain access. (Restrictions could still apply to the type of use to which these spaces are permitted to be used for ie no commercial vehicles or trading, and the lenght of stay permitted).

Please repeal the 2006 NERC act. This will restore vehicular rights to the network of green lanes in England, Wales and Northern Ireland

For several decades vehicular rights applied to a network of green lanes across our country. These vehicular rights were used by farmers and other local users, but were enjoyed-lawfully- by other user groups such as trail riders(riders of legal, registered, taxed and insured motorcycles).

These lanes included byways, RUPPS(roads used a s public paths), ORPA's and UCR's.

Under pressure from an unholy alliance of large landowners and the Ramblers Association(vocals plus money), the Labour Govt capitulated and downgraded some of the aforementioned routes. For instance, it is no longer possible to lawfully traverse a RUPP using a motor vehicle, they became 'restricted byways'. This has left many thousands of  lawful trail riders with very limited access to the countryside. It has NOT stopped the untaxed and illegal hooligans that so vexed the complainants in the Ramblers Association.

Many of these old green lanes are now overgrown, used by no one. Or worse, are found suddenly incorporated into a landowners property. In remote areas there are few walkers anyway, and the pasttime precious to many people is severely restricted. This was vindictive piece of legislation,  promoted and funded by the 'holier than thou' Ramblers Association. It has had little or no impact, save the damage done to local pubs, shops, motorcycle shops and specialists used by the trail riders. For more info see the Trail Riders Fellowship website.

Worse still, most 'ramblers' are urban dwellers, often driving their vehicles into the countryside, where they spend a few hours rambling, no money in local businesses, and then they drive home. Whilst the lawful, predominantly rural dwelling trail riders sit fulminating at home, bike garaged or now sold, being lectured to by the Ramblers Association.

This should be reversed. Vehicular rights should be resored to pre- NERC routes. Illegal use of untaxed vehicles is a matter for the police anywhere, including in the countryside. This vindictive act has made matters worse for lawful trail riders, whilst the illegal users carry on with impunity. 

Why is this idea important?

For several decades vehicular rights applied to a network of green lanes across our country. These vehicular rights were used by farmers and other local users, but were enjoyed-lawfully- by other user groups such as trail riders(riders of legal, registered, taxed and insured motorcycles).

These lanes included byways, RUPPS(roads used a s public paths), ORPA's and UCR's.

Under pressure from an unholy alliance of large landowners and the Ramblers Association(vocals plus money), the Labour Govt capitulated and downgraded some of the aforementioned routes. For instance, it is no longer possible to lawfully traverse a RUPP using a motor vehicle, they became 'restricted byways'. This has left many thousands of  lawful trail riders with very limited access to the countryside. It has NOT stopped the untaxed and illegal hooligans that so vexed the complainants in the Ramblers Association.

Many of these old green lanes are now overgrown, used by no one. Or worse, are found suddenly incorporated into a landowners property. In remote areas there are few walkers anyway, and the pasttime precious to many people is severely restricted. This was vindictive piece of legislation,  promoted and funded by the 'holier than thou' Ramblers Association. It has had little or no impact, save the damage done to local pubs, shops, motorcycle shops and specialists used by the trail riders. For more info see the Trail Riders Fellowship website.

Worse still, most 'ramblers' are urban dwellers, often driving their vehicles into the countryside, where they spend a few hours rambling, no money in local businesses, and then they drive home. Whilst the lawful, predominantly rural dwelling trail riders sit fulminating at home, bike garaged or now sold, being lectured to by the Ramblers Association.

This should be reversed. Vehicular rights should be resored to pre- NERC routes. Illegal use of untaxed vehicles is a matter for the police anywhere, including in the countryside. This vindictive act has made matters worse for lawful trail riders, whilst the illegal users carry on with impunity.