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Welsh Byway Plans Raise Hackles

Powys Council has raised a storm with plans to resurface a section of track over the Cambrian Mountains which would benefit trail riders and mountain bikers. Monks Trod is a BOAT (Byway Open to All Traffic), which makes it legal for motorised vehicles, unless the local authority puts a restriction in place. Because some of the five-mile byway is over boggy, easily damaged ground, the Council closed it to four-wheeled vehicles in 1990 via a TRO (Traffic Regulation Order), which was extended to bikes in 2002 – in 2021, it was reopened to two-wheelers only.

Now Powys Council plans to resurface a section of Monks Trod, raising a storm of protest from Powys Local Access Forum, amongst others, which maintains that making the route easier for bikes will damage its tranquil atmosphere and cause damage to the peaty soil. But the Council replied: “The surface proposed is compatible with protecting the features of the landscape. This will not be a sealed (tarmac) surface, it will simply be a drier causeway across the wetted areas.”

Meanwhile, the Trail Riders Fellowship (TRF) said that failing to improve the track would stop illegal trail riding: “Those that ride illegally will continue to do so whilst the responsible majority are persecuted. Greater enforcement of existing laws would deter illegal riding.”

Jim Freeman, Chair of the BMF, welcomed the resurfacing plans, which would encourage riders to stick to the track. “ Ill-informed knee jerk responses, from local ‘activists’, is par for the course; hats off to those who stuck it out, and Powys Council for ignoring the nay sayers. As the TRF rightly say, the illegal ‘no plate’ users will carry on whatever, because there’s no enforcement and encouraging the legitimate user, who’ll respect the road, unpaved or not, will help deter the numpties.”

Written by Peter Henshaw

Top image courtesy of Roger Bibbings (note: track shown is not Monks Trod)