As an advocacy group for mountain biking across the Military Lands, TAG has a simple goal: To ensure cyclists have the right to use the lands for responsible recreation when said lands are not in use by the military.
This can be achieved in two ways: By the Commanding Officer granting such permission, or by a review of the Byelaw.
TAG have been given notice by Defence Infrastructure Organisation (DIO) that the timeline is now in place for the Aldershot and District Military Lands Byelaws for the following areas:
- Aldershot Long Valley
- Aldershot Garrison
- Hawley, Minley and Camberley
- Pirbright Camp, Ash Ranges and Bisley Ranges.
All remaining areas of military land in the area will be subject to a separate byelaw, and work will commence on that area as soon as the new byelaws have been made.
DIO will be drafting the new laws before putting them out for public consultation. From the documents supplied there is no indication if interested parties and stakeholders will have any say on what the byelaws actually say before the public get their chance to raise objections.
Public consultation is scheduled to begin in June 2019 and the new byelaw is expected to be signed into law by February 2020.
This is an opportunity for the community to ensure the lands remain open to everyone when training is not underway. It is likely the byelaws governing the lands will not be reviewed for another 40 years so it is vital they maintain, enhance and reflect exactly how the public wish to use them.
Other military land byelaws have been reviewed and cycling has become a permitted form of recreation. This is within MOD’s own guidelines. TAG expect nothing less than full access for cyclists in the Aldershot and Longmoor areas too.
We shall be preparing a full response in due course, but in the meantime it is vital that we have as much support as possible from local MPs and councillors, who can bring influence and pressure on DIO to finally recognise their own guidance and policy documents. It is therefore vital we have representation that is supportive to the cycling community. TAG will be seeking and publishing the views of every candidate on this subject in the forthcoming local elections.
Remember, this is close to once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to set the laws fairly for all. We have much to gain.
Firstly, on behalf of Trail Action Group, I would like to say a huge “Thank you” to everyone who took the time to respond to the recent survey. We all think it is vitally important that the Aldershot and District lands are recognised for the immense value they bring to the local cycling community and the results now allow everyone to quantify and understand the deep feelings we all hold for the land, and the respect for those who work and train there.
At 60 pages the report is quite long, so if this feels little daunting we would recommend the Summary and Appendix 8.3 are worthy of reading in full.
Appendix 8.3 contains the summary of where we gave the chance for mountain bikers to explain why accessing the land was important. This section was written by the respondents, in their own words. The responses do not provide any hard data or facts, but does convey the emotive passion, the joy and pleasure that the lands bring to our lives. Reading them is a real delight and its heartwarming to find that so many share a common, respectful view and understand the benefits access brings.
Finally, TAG would like to thank the cyclists and unicyclist who posed for the images that illustrate the report.
The full report is in PDF format and may be dowloaded here:
TAG are seeking some background information from the MTB community that rides on the military lands. If you ride in the following places, we would like to hear from you:-
- Minley Manor & Yateley Heath
- Pystock and Fleet Pond surrounds.
- Long Valley
- Caesars Camp and Beacon Hill
- Ash Ranges
- Tunnel Hill
- Porridge Pot & Windmill Hill
- Bagshot Heath north and south
- Barrossa Common
- Hankley Common
- Longmoor Ranges
The survey can be found here:-
TAG MTB Survey
We would really appreciate your responses. No one is compelled to give their name, email address etc, but we may need to follow up with some respondents to clarify some of the answers, so an email address and permission to contact you would be just perfect. It kind of goes without saying that we will not be sharing your personal details with anyone else…but that information will remain confidential.
The survey should not take too long – thanks in advance for your time. It is appreciated and will be useful in our ongoing discussions with the landowner.
PUBLIC MEETING: As you may be aware it’s recently become apparent that recreational cycling access to the local MoD lands is under threat. The Trail Action Group (TAG) are holding a public meeting on the 17th September to discuss responsible use of this land and what local cyclists’ next steps should be. Please attend and let your voice be heard!
Where: St John’s Hall, 14 St John’s Road, Cove, Farnborough, GU14 9RQ
When: Wed 17th September 8pm for prompt 8:15pm start
It was good to see so many passionate mtbers at the meeting in Church Crookham with the Army last night, whilst the atmosphere did get a little spikey at one point, lots of moderate voices were head and I hope it will act as a wakeup call to the powers that be at the MoD and they will now engage with MTB groups such as TAG.
My main takeaways from the meeting were:
- The MoD have had legal advice that if they’re ever asked they must reply “cycling off metalled tracks is illegal under the 1976 byelaws and the definition of a metalled track is a tarmac road such as Bourley Road”
- Whilst they have to repeat the party line, they did say they would be enforcing it by requesting riders to move on. If the rider was disruptive “again and again” then a ‘warning off notice’ would be issued, if it happened again, another ‘warning off notice’ would be issued but it’d be up to the police to do anything more (they share the notices with the police)
- The primary objective of the meeting from the MoD point of view was to warn the local population about increased use by troops following the return of guys from Germany (27k in total, presumably not all coming to Aldershot) and more importantly there will be several new battalions in the locale who will have very large military vehicles
- They were particularly worried that their trainee drivers would be driving badly in 29 ton Mastiff vehicles with poor visibility and flatten a cyclist / dog walker
- The main impacted area will be the driving training area in Long Valley that is likely to see improved fences etc and enforcement (to be honest this area isn’t that great for MTBing)
- The Army are restricted as to which areas they can use as they’ve given a fair amount up to developers as ‘SANGS’ (when they build houses they have to provide green space proportionate to the residents) and they can’t use the red flag areas if shooting is going on
- There is a consultation on the byelaws that will happen in due course but they couldn’t tell us when or the route by which our views can be made known
- They are considering ideas about how they manage public access – zoning was mentioned. They will appreciate they will need to consult on these following last night.
- Whatever they think about mtbers it’s nothing compared with how much they dislike dog poo!
- 140 mtbers turning up made an impression (some good some bad!) on the MoD and they’re probably puzzling about how they deal with the issue
TAG has got the Lt Col.’s email address and we’ll be trying to engage him directly about a way forward (if nothing else to show him some singletrack so he knows what he is dealing with). We’ll obviously keep everyone informed and we’d welcome hearing from anyone who wants to be engaged.
Finally I’d like to ask all local riders to read the Code of Conduct that is on the TAG website – if we all follow this we will be able to reduce conflict to a minimum and hopefully avoid draconian measures.
Ewan (TAG Chair)
As you may be aware 6 months ago TAG wrote a position paper setting out what we saw as the potential management options for MTBing on MoD land around Aldershot. We did this primarily to set our cards out on the table and to better understand MoD’s official position.
We have now had a response from MoD which is attached to the bottom of this post. As you will see, whilst it is not a wholly negative response, it does not significantly move the discussion towards sustainable use of MoD land by MTBers.
So, what are the next steps for TAG – there are three areas we intend to pursue:
- Continue to be available to the MoD if and when they decide they wish to engage with the MTB users.
- Provide information to MTBers of any news or information that will encourage sustainable use of the land, for example by promoting the Code of Conduct
- Act as a key lobby group when the Aldershot Military Lands Byelaw review is undertaken to formally provide submissions advocating legal recognition of cyclist use of the land beyond the current restriction to byeways and made up roads.
Whilst TAG appreciates this isn’t great news, we will continue to pursue the above areas with vigour. We would of course welcome any feedback from MTBers on the position paper and MOD’s response.
Thank you for your support,
Mountain Biking on the Aldershot Military Land
DIO Response to TAG Paper
TAG is disappointed to hear that the MoD has decided to issue a ban on cycling on Hankley Common. Full details can be found at the link below and we urge mountain bikers to follow the following advice if you meet a patrol or LandMarc agent:
- They have the right to stop you
- Be polite regardless of provocation
- If asked to leave the area, then do so (don’t just go round the corner as this is likely to provoke them)
- If you have an incident at a specific location then don’t return to that location as repeat offending is most likely to result in confiscation
- If property confiscation occurs then ensure you see their accreditation (military ID or LandMarc ID)
- Notify TAG and your local councillor of any incident as soon as possible
- Remember that everyone including the military read the websites, so think about what you post
We will continue to press for the MoD to recognise mountain biking use of the Aldershot Military Lands – please note that the situation is slightly different on Hankley Common in that the byelaws only allow cycling on bridleways rather than bridleways and fireroads as on the Aldershot Military Lands.
EDIT: Please note, that riding on the bridleways is still permitted.