Campaigns, Successes and Claims
Select a campaign from the list below:
New Agricultural Policy
To all Essex Riders - this is your chance to make a difference. If we don't all lobby for change, that change will not happen, so PLEASE take the time to write to your MP! Thank you!
URGENT MOMENT TO LOBBY YOUR MP!
Find yours here and ask them to write to the Rt Hon Theresa Villiers
To your MP
I note that the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs the Rt Hon Theresa Villiers did not mention public access to the countryside and nature once in her speech to the recent Oxford Farming Conference (please see below for the link to the speech).
Please will you write urgently to the Secretary of State and ask her to reassure the millions of people currently denied access to the countryside, including 3.1 million horse riders and 0.5 million carriage drivers (many of whom are elderly and disabled) that public goods includes public access for all user groups and that public access will continue to be included in the forthcoming Agriculture Bill.
The new Environmental Land Management (ELM) scheme must be the golden bridge between landowners and the public - delivering at last a joined up network of paths and green infrastructure accessible to ALL user groups, delivering on rights of way improvement plans, on public health and economic benefit, through green non-polluting active travel, recreation and engagement with nature.
The Government has pledged in ‘A Green Future: Our 25 Year Plan to Improve the Environment’
to “open up the mental and physical health benefits of the natural world to people from the widest possible range of ages and backgrounds”.
The Government has also pledged to “take into account the often hidden additional benefits in every aspect of the environment for national wellbeing, health and economic prosperity, with scientific and economic evidence to the fore”.
Please don’t let us down on this commitment.
Better Bridleways for Essex
Essex needs more bridleways and now is the time to spread the word amongst the riding community and beyond. Bridleways mean freedom for all and our main campaign continues to be for Better Bridleways for Essex and we hope you will work with us to highlight the need for more safe off road routes for horse riders that can also be used by all those that love and enjoy our beautiful countryside.
EBA is being proactive and we hope you will all join us to do what you can to spread the word and give us a greater voice to make change happen.
Last year we made our voices heard by those who can influence change and we are definitely seeing an impact in our work. we will continue to campaign for better bridleways in our fast growing county and we are working closely with other organisations such as the BHS to get our voices heard and improve the availability of safe open spaces and bridleways for riders in Essex.
Essex Rights of Way Improvement Plan (ROWIP)
The Essex Rights of Way Improvement Plan (ROWIP) is a statutory document that sets out ECC's ambitions for improving the provision of access to the countryside through Rights of Way over a 10 year period. Development of the ROWIP was a requirement of the Countryside and Rights of Way (CROW) Act 2000, and contains an assessment of the extent to which the existing network of local Rights of Way met the present and likely future needs of the public. It also looked at the opportunities provided by local Rights of Way for all forms of open air recreation and enjoyment, and the accessibility of local rights of way to blind or partially-sighted persons and others with mobility problems.
The ROWIP was last published in 2009 and it remains the prime means by which Essex County Council will identify improvements to the local rights of way network in order to meet the Government’s aim of better provision for walkers, cyclists, equestrians and people with mobility problems.
Essex County Council is currently preparing the second Plan (2020-2030) and is seeking the views of various stakeholders including individuals, user groups and parish and town councils. We will be having our say, monitoring the development of the Plan and asking for your help as the new Plan develops.
See Update Autumn 2017 and Spring 2018:
For the Evidence of Use Form which is required by Essex County Council follow this link to download the document:
/generaldocuments/Evidence of Use Form-3.docx
2016 Essex Bridleways Association - Petition and Survey - Over 2,600 riders sign EBA Petition
On 8th June 2016, Essex Bridleways Association presented a petition to Essex County Council requesting increased access to safe off-road routes for horse riders. The petition contained 2,644 signatures and was received by Councillor Eddie Johnson, Cabinet Member for Highways and Transport.
As a result of our efforts, EBA achieved news coverage in a number of publications, including a substantial piece in Essex Chronicle. EBA Chair, Julia Wilson was also interviewed live on the Dave Monk drive-time show on BBC Essex Radio.
In a written response to the letter accompanying the petition, Cllr Johnson highlighted a number of actions designed to improve the safety issues affecting equestrians riding on the county’s road. These included support for the British Horse Society’s ‘Dead Slow’ Campaign – information which was shared using social media, e-newsletter and the Safer Essex Roads Partnership (SERP) website: www.saferessexroads.org/road-users/horse-riders. However, the EBA Committee felt that the main point of the petition – i.e. the need for increased off-road access - has not been addressed. As we go to press, EBA has replied and awaits further correspondence.
EBA 2016 Survey
To support its campaign work, EBA conducted an online survey with the aim of gaining a snapshot of Essex riders and their thoughts on riding in the county.
- 1046 riders completed the survey, made up of 36 male and 1010 (97%) female*.
- 94% of riders were aged 17 or over. 46% were aged between 31 and 50 years of age, with 30% being 50+.
- 91% ride more than once a week, with 64% of those riding every day or most days.
- 84% ride for fun, with 48% of those also competing locally.
- 52% said that they are in the saddle for over an hour – 10% of those ride for more than 2 hours.
Where we ride
- 47% of people regularly ride on busy main roads.
- 55% of all respondents classed off-road access in their area as poor or very poor; 26% thought it was Okay.
- 95% of people said that improved off-road access would make them hack out more.
- 1000 people selected specific answers to best reflect their feelings when riding on the roads. Of these: 37% don’t enjoy hacking because of the traffic, while 6% don’t hack out at all because they feel the roads are too dangerous. 50% avoid some roads because of the traffic. Others used the comments box to expand on their concerns.
- 98% said they would like to see the Government do more to consider the needs of equestrians.
The equestrian industry
- Respondents listed a total of 2231 horses (with 10% of respondents sharing or loaning equines).
- Of those that specified, 739 people keep their horses at livery/friend’s property; 20 keep horses at their own equestrian business; and 282 on their own private property***.
- 31 people classed themselves as professionals/competitor/business**, accounting for 111 horses (plus 1 Mounted Police).
*Sport England’s research revealed that far fewer women than men participate in sport regularly: the ‘This Girl Can’ campaign, was designed to address this gender imbalance. Horse riding meanwhile, is enjoyed largely by females of all ages.
** Equestrian ownership and activity makes a significant contribution to our regional and national economy. The British Horse Society supplied us with the following figures:
27 BHS Approved Centres in Essex
2,241 BHS members in Essex (as of Dec 2015)
*** There is a common misconception that horse owners are wealthy landowners. A large number of riders support the local economy by paying for livery.
What you said:
People that completed our survey were given the opportunity to make further comment. Many feel that Essex roads are getting busier, with faster traffic and increasingly intolerant or aggressive motorists.
The disjointed bridleways network is a problem, with bridleways that lead nowhere or end on busy roads. Others expressed concern that fly tippers and off-road vehicles make PRoW impassable.
This is just a small selection of comments…
“I have completely lost my nerve to ride on the road. Even the small lanes are lethal. Cars drive so fast, have no idea you are around the corner. Please give us more off road riding.”
“Riding in the manège gets quite boring very quickly, I really wish we had some bridleways near us.”
“Horse riding and access to safe bridleways/multi user routes should be integrated in to all sports/outdoor and leisure strategic planning at a national and local level.”
“Leisure maps show "recreational routes" & these are increasing. Surely, riding is a form of recreation & yet these routes are not suitable for either horses or cycling. I consider both of these as recreation. Is it that we need more routes or better use of routes which are already available?”
“With the ever increasing house building in our area our previously quiet country roads are now like racetracks and so dangerous that we soon won't be able to ride out at all. It's very sad.”
“Thinking of giving up as roads are too bad.”
“My children hack but & I worry constantly as drivers drive to fast and don't slow down on the country lanes esp. bends!”
“Nearly every time we ride drivers are aggressive and pass to close and too fast. We always thank careful drivers but over the last couple of years we have noticed that more and more drivers actually want confrontation. One woman screamed at me that she would like to rip my horse’s head off and watch it die. I have ridden out for over 40 years but it is so dangerous now I am thinking of giving up.”
“Have recently sent my horse to my niece in Suffolk as impossible to ride in this area without stress.”
“Drivers hate seeing horses on the roads, residents complain we are causing an obstruction or heaven forbid droppings, yet there are literally NO safe routes to hack on! There is one short bridleway (approx 1 minute ride in length) which leads nowhere; other than that it is road riding. It really is pretty dire. Make it a safer environment for all involved - add in decent bridleways! There are enough footpaths.”
“Would love to see a continuous link of bridleways around Essex to allow you to roam our wonderful countryside and to enable young horses to learn to hack out without fear of collision or fretting with the occasional ignorant driver on the road - this should be a pleasurable hobby for both horse and rider as well as much needed exercise for both.”
EBA is extremely grateful to those that expressed their thanks in the comments box; it was also good to see that so many people are members of EBA and/or the BHS and other access groups. However, over 33% of people were not a member of any RoW group. Completing our survey and signing our petition are fantastic first steps but we would urge all Essex horse riders to be more proactive.
If we are to make ground in the fight for Better Bridleways for Essex, we all need to join together in order to help ourselves. EBA is a registered charity, run by a small team of volunteers and, while we do liaise with the authorities and fight the cause for riders in Essex, we also ask that you help us by joining and becoming actively involved wherever possible.