Sunday, 5 October 2008

Cambrian Mountains - open for rally cars?


Ian Mole of Welsh Country Magazine has asked for more exposure of the proposal from the Welsh Assembly and Ceredigion County Council to allow far more access to the Cambrian Mountain, to the detriment of the natural environment. Ceredigion County Council is accepting comments over a consultation period on the draft strategy ending on 13th October 2008, so please read on if you want to know more, and consider sending your comments to the council by that date. The text below was written by Ian Mole.



"We are all being told that climate change is upon us and to save fuel both at home , work and in the car.

We are lucky in that we all live in a most beautiful part of the British Isles and do not suffer the poor air quality so much of England suffers from around and in the larger conurbations.

There is constant pressure on our wild open spaces and the Cambrian Mountains are no exception to that. It seems that Ceredigion Council recognized this and assigned the status of Special Landscape to the area.

There is a proposal though that seems to fly in the face of working towards using less oil – creating pollution of noise and poorer air quality and making the Cambrian Mountains less of a Special Landscape.

There is an initiative to open up some green lanes 173 km (108 miles) in total (that is the equivalent of Aberystwyth to Birmingham) for off road 4 x 4’s, rally cars and scramble bikes.

To make this feasible as there are not sufficient green roads it is proposed to use some bridle ways and foot paths to make the circular routes.

Ceredigion County Council is accepting comments over a consultation period on the draft strategy ending on 13th October 2008.

Comments should be in writing and emailed to:

countryside@ceredigion.gov.uk

or in writing to:

Ian Dutch Principal Planner - Coast and Countryside Department of Environmental Services and Housing Ceredigion County Council Penmorfa Aberaeron SA46 0PA

The consultants have now produced a draft management strategy and action plan for the Cambrian Mountains and comments are invited on these proposals. The draft management strategy and accompanying maps can be downloaded from the Ceredigion County Council web site at:

http://www.ceredigion.gov.uk/index.cfm?articleid=9891

We at Welsh Country magazine believe this to be a step too far and urge you to share your comments with Ceredigion Council so that this plan does not go forward.

The Cambrian Mountains Society who also oppose the plans are looking to make the Cambrian Mountains an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty which would afford the area more protection against such illogical schemes.

To find out more of the background to this initiative then please check the Cambrian Mountains Society on http://www.cambrian-mountains.co.uk

We at Welsh Country magazine will gladly pass on any comments to either party should you just wish to reply to this email. Welsh Country magazine would also gladly accept your comments and thoughts on this for publication in the magazine and / or website.

Regards
Ian Mole
Welsh Country Magazine"
It is ironic that Ceredigion County Council's own sites say:
“Ceredigion offers award-winning beaches and a network of spectacular walking, cycling and mountain biking routes” www.tourism.ceredigion.gov.uk/saesneg/
“From spectacular coastal walks along the Ceredigion Coastal Path affording glimpses of dolphins, seals, porpoise and marine birds; through the lush green river valleys of the Teifi, Aeron, Ystwyth and Rheidol; to the heathered uplands and forests of the Cambrian Mountains where red kites and buzzards soar majestically above - the panoply of walking opportunities on offer is hard to better.” www.tourism.ceredigion.gov.uk/saesneg/walking.htm
Yet the Cambrian Mountains Pilot Partnership propose to allow motorised recreational vehicle (MVR) use in the Cambrian Mountains despite the following problems it would cause:
  • detriment of the tranquility of the area;
  • conflict of usage of paths between one group of relatively quiet usage (walkers, cyclists, horse-riders) and noisy MRV users. Cyclists have few enough places to cycle away from traffic as it is, without having quiet forest and mountain paths being dominated and wrecked by motor vehicles;
  • unsuitability of the Cambrian Mountains as a location for a network of routes for MRV use;
  • this strategy would ignore the threat of climate change - we need to cut down on motor vehicle use and reduce oil usage.
This whole proposal appears to be operating in isolation of any coherent sustainable or environmental strategy. It is devoid of thought on using less oil, of creating and sustaining a healthy environment, of encouraging people to undertake physical exercise (walk, cycle). Instead, it promotes the use of sedentary-use motorised vehicles, burning oil that needs conserving and ruining the very environment these MRV users are driving about in.


26 October 2008: Ian Mole of Welsh Country Magazine has sent an update on this issue, as follows.

Firstly thank you so much for all your support in trying to stop the proposed 4 x4 and motorbike tracks/ roadways across the beautiful Cambrian Mountains.

Your response has helped to generate more than 100 replies to Ceredigion County Council the lead authority in this proposed project. It is interesting that my personal feeling was that this was being tried to be pushed through quietly through the back door and when I have raised this supposition nobody to date has contradicted me (oh except the Motorbike Trail Rider Lobby) including our local Ceredigion Councilor who was not aware of the proposal. So what else can we do?

To give you a timetable of the way forward follows is an extract from an email from Ian Dutch the Ceredigion Planning officer in charge of the proposal.
“The consultation has generated a great deal of interest with well over 100 responses made to date. In the coming weeks, the Partnership will be assessing the comments that have been made passing this information to the consultants.

The consultants will be producing their final Strategy and action plan later this year (scheduled in November). The Strategy and its recommendations will then be considered by the each of the three local authorities (anticipated in December / January).

The volume of the comments (and the time required for their consideration) may give rise to some slippage but we would hope that this would be kept to a minimum.”

There are to be meetings of those involved with the project and have interests. The Countryside Council for Wales I am led to believe is one of the strongest of these and I am also told that we still have time to lobby them prior to their next meeting with Ceredigion Council and the other interested parties.

If we could all contact the Countryside Council for Wales (CCW) it will at the very least keep our voices on the agenda.

Any communication to the CCW should be addressed to John Lloyd Jones Chairman of the CCW and Council Members. This assures that all the Council members get a copy of your views and not just the secretariat.

The postal address is:

CCW
Maes-y-Ffynnon
Penrhosgarnedd
Bangor
Gwynedd
LL57 2DW

For emails the secretariat address is

b.roberts@ccw.gov.uk

The pro voice is loud and very defensive and is shouting about nimbyism.

To counter this accusation I put the following in my objection which I hoped put forward a solution. For those of you that are unaware Eastnor is Eastnor Castle where they have the most spectacular 4 X 4 Course often used by Land Rover as a company. It is a commercial venture and as such cared for in a commercial way and those that drive there do so at their cost and are limited to strict courses within fenced boundaries.

1) Making the Cambrian Mountains a National Park so policing the park becomes the joint responsibility of the Park Authority and the Police with the park authority rangers as per Brecon Beacons and Pembrokeshire Coast having far wider remit to care for the area in the long term.

2) To create another area such as Eastnor where 4x4 vehicles can come and play but in a confined and controllable area. This could be a completely commercial operation as Eastnor is thus removing all financial responsibility away from both WAG and the Unitary Authorities and back on to the users of the facility.

The Welsh Country website is setting up a section of their website www.welshcountry.co.uk as of 1st November (publication day) dedicated to the issue of the Cambrian Mountains 4 x 4 project. As part of this there is a poll so the more votes we get the more we can lobby and ask questions which we feel is very much part of our job but done strongly and quietly behind the scenes.

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