December 19 2003. A consultation document just issued by DEFRA (the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs) looks set to change the face of recreational motorcycling forever warns the British Motorcyclists Federation.

The document, the 'Use of mechanically propelled vehicles on Rights of Way' is a follow-on from the Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000 - the Act that introduced the 'right to roam' across thousands of square miles of private land. If the consultation proposals go ahead, it will end 100 years of use of our ancient road network by motorised vehicles say the BMF, and could even restrict the use of unclassified metalled roads.

Working in conjunction with the Land Access and Recreation Association (LARA) and the Trail Riders Fellowship (TRF) the BMF will be lobbying hard against the proposals to restrict the use of 'green lanes' put forward last week by the Countryside Minister, the Rt Hon Alun Michael MP.

Commenting, the BMF's Environmental specialist Richard Olliffe said: "While we accept that illegal motoring in all its forms is a very real problem, this is a classic case of proposing changes that will hit the law-abiding more than it does the offender"

For LARA, chairman Bill Troughear said: "There is a very real danger that motorcyclists and drivers will lose access to minor tarmac and stone-surfaced roads, thus closing down access to large areas of the countryside."

None of the represented organisations condone irresponsible and aggressive riding on these ancient right of way. "Our ancient highways are not motocross or enduro practice tracks", said Richard, "they are public roads. If people want true 'off-road' riding, then they should enter competition events."

The closing date for responses is 19 March 2004. Copies of the consultation paper can be found on web site and a full background-briefing document is available on