NEWS – History archive 2008

December 2008

National Equine Database

The National Equine Database (NED) has now been launched to the public at

www.nedonline.co.uk

On the site you can check passport details to ensure the horse you are about to buy (or even currently own) is recorded correctly.  Just like the HPI scheme for cars, using NED should be your first check when considering the loan or purchase of a new horse.  There is a media pack with FAQs at

Media Pack Information

The site also contains breed records and competition results and is well worth a few minutes to have a look around it.

Although horse passports are an EU regulation related to equines entering the human food chain we can make them useful to us all by treating them just like a car registration document.  Never buy a horse (car) without a passport (reg doc) and ideally identify it with a freeze brand (number plate). 

Changes next year will mean all new or replacement passports will require the animal to be microchipped (by a vet) so the cost will naturally increase.  If you do not have a passport then now is the time to get one.  The animal will also have to be accompanied by their passport whenever they are moved (except on foot).  There is currently a Government consultation and Horsewatch has been invited to comment.  More news next year as we hear it.

9 October 2008

The Local Action Group has been awarded £2.6m to support community projects over the next 6 years. Our project relating to equine tourism and access across the District is included in this money. More news on this to follow......

22 September 2008

Ragwort Facts

Find out the facts and information of the ragwort plant on the following site

28 July 2008

Track Clearing

The Forestry Commission have given us permission to continue clearing the Pylons track at Yorkley with the help of a contractor.  We have been given a very good price from a local contractor, but before he can get onto the track with his machine, the overhead branches need to be removed from the lower part of the track which we haven't quite got to yet.  The date for the next working party is Sunday 10th August starting at 2pm.  If you are able to give an hour or two to undertake this work, it would be very much appreciated.  Especially if you are local to the area and use the track!
 

17 June 2008

Update on our bid for funding to improve riding/driving network

At the end of May, three Gloucestershire Local Action Group bids for community investment programmes were submitted to the South West Regional Development Agency (SWRDA) for the £28million initiative for rural communities in the South West.

These were:

Competition

A total of 19 bids have been submitted to SWRDA by Local Action Groups throughout the South West and the money sought totals nearly £60 million, so not all LAGs will be successful.(see the 10th June news item on the SWRDA website www.southwestrda.org.uk

What is the LAG?

‘Local Action’ is the community-led element of the Rural Development Programme for England. The total pot available in the South West is £28million and it aims to:

The guidelines state that the LAG areas should cover a population of between 5,000 and 150,000 people and that it should be a coherent area from a geographic, economic and social point of view.

The SWRDA website contains further information on the LAG guidelines  http://www.southwestrda.org.uk/what-we-do/regeneration/eafrd/community-led-develo.shtm

What has happened so far in Gloucestershire?

Five expressions of interest were initially submitted from Gloucestershire by January 2008 and, following feedback from SWRDA, some of these have merged with others to create the 3 Local Action Groups. Since February, statutory, voluntary and business sectors in each of the Gloucestershire LAGs have been working together to develop a proposal for an investment programme. In each case, one organisation has taken the co-ordinating role to bring together all the partners, project ideas and forming a clear programme specification.

What happens next?

The Local Action Selection Panel will meet on the 3rd, 17th, 18th and 25th of July.

The panel will be chaired by Sir Harry Studholme (SWRDA Board Member). Members will be Ian Piper (Director of Sustainable Communities SWRDA), Gerry Hamersley (Area Manager Glos, Wilts, and West of England, Natural England), Mark Prior (Forestry Commission) and Andrew Slade (Deputy Regional Director Sustainability, Climate & Environment, Government Office for the South West). GOSW will be present to ensure that the process is open and transparent, national criteria is applied consistently, and that the process complies with EU and DEFRA requirements.

 

Members of the panel will receive: the application, a RDA technical appraisal, input from Natural England and Forestry Commission, input from Sub-Regional Economic Partnerships, and a risk assessment.
Three representatives from prospective LAG's may be called to make a presentation to panel on the 17th, 18th, or 25th of July. Individual groups will be notified in writing in the week following the 3rd of July if a presentation is required.
SWRDA will write to all applicants after the final selection panel meeting on the 25th of July to let them know the outcome of their bid.

If a Gloucestershire LAG bid is successful, the co-ordinating organisation will bring together partners to decide on the process for receiving applications for projects to develop and fund. GRCC and the LAGs will keep you informed through a variety of means- email alerts, website content, newsletters and word of mouth.

April 2008

Talking with the Public Rights of Way team at GCC recently we were pleased to learn that priority is being given to claims to change the definitive map to reinstate bridleways. As part of the Rights of Way Improvement Plan for Gloucestershire it is recognised that the network is fragmented and needs to be improved. However, this means that equestrians in the Forest of Dean District need to let let us know where they ride and where a public access route is in dispute. The PROW team need this information so that they can put isolated routes into the context of a network.

March 2008

HORSEBOXES TO CROSS SEVERN BRIDGE FOR £5.30

In a year that has seen increasing fuel charges, WATO legislation, and tightening restrictions on weight limits, finally, there is some good news for owners of horseboxes with living accommodation.


Traditionally, horseboxes over 3.5 tonnes have been charged as Category 3 vehicles on the Severn Bridge when coming into Wales. Currently, this charge is £15.90. James Broome, of the David Broome Event Centre, has looked into this and found a loophole in the Severn Bridges Act that determines the way that tolls are charged on the Severn Bridge.“The Act states that, ‘A Motor caravan, or mobile home, is classed as a Category 1 vehicle. A vehicle over 3.5 tonnes is classed into Category 3. When a vehicle falls into 2 categories, the lower of the two shall be used.’ Initially, when Severn Rivers Crossing PLC were
contacted, they were rather less than forthcoming on their charging policies. However, having now pursued the organisation for several months, they have conceded and will, from 17th March 2008, allow horseboxes with permanent living accommodation to cross the bridge as a Category 1 vehicle. This means that horsebox owners, whatever size their lorry,
will only have to pay £5.30.”


Because of the way that the Severn Bridgeis governed by the Severn Bridges Act, this situation is unique, and will therefore not be followed at other tolling centres, such as the M6 toll and the Dartford tunnel.

For more information, please contact the David Broome Event Centre on 01291 420778

February 2008

European funding

SWRDA has received more requests for monies than they expected so are considering whether they stay with their original proposal to have few but large projects running or if they should go with many projects for less money per project. Decision to be made by end February. FODDC have been asked to work with Transition Forest (who put in a separate bid) in putting forward a joint bid. Watch this site for updates

Reports of horse damaged tracks in Oldcroft

There have been reports of trouble in the Oldcroft/Viney Hill area between horse riders and local walkers. Apparently, three riders were accosted by a man with a walking stick berating them about the state of the tracks and one of the riders was unseated as a result of the unfortunate episode. Our association felt the need to clarify our position in this argument and have sent the following letter which has been published in the Forest Review

 

'The Forest of Dean Horse Riders & Carriage Drivers Assn. would like to respond to the comments made by residents in the Oldcroft area in last week’s Review.  We are a responsible group representing the interests of equestrians, in seeking safe, off-road riding and carriage driving opportunities.  We believe that the Forest is for all people to enjoy and to use responsibly.

Three years ago the association was formed to develop better access for equestrian activities wanting to create linking and circular routes for the safe use and enjoyment of ‘all’ users.  Working in partnership with the Forestry Commission, District and Parish Councils and other recreational groups.

To quote the Forestry Commission, “Woods need to be user friendly … walking, cycling and horse riding are examples of activities that thrive on a woodland setting”.  Much has been done in the past to improve provision for walkers and cyclists with little or no attention given to equestrians.  The problems that have arisen from this biased development now need to be managed taking into account the needs of ALL users.

Horse riding is enjoyed by more than four million people in the UK providing healthy outdoor exercise, which the Government is keen to encourage.  We are fortunate to live in a lovely part of the country, which offers safe off-road equestrian activities.  A recent survey (Nov 2007) estimated that horses contribute over £13m to the local economy.

Recreational horse riding is now recognised as a significant element of the rural economy (Gloucestershire ROWIP 2006-2011).  The growth in demand for this healthy exercise means that the existing path provision is under pressure to provide a more comprehensive network of routes for equestrians.

There are three livery yards in the Oldcroft/Yorkley area including many privately owned horses, in total, nearly 100 horses.  Very few of the local riders have joined the association and therefore do not receive the newsletters detailing the efforts being made to open up new routes and advice of ‘no go’ areas.  The few who are association members cannot be held responsible for all riders in the district!

Sometimes, it is not possible to keep to just hard tracks within the Forest, as there is no cohesive linking system, and some tracks, which have heavy horse usage, have become poached due to this exceptionally wet winter.  The FC has closed many of the previously used tracks, thus concentrating the number of horses using fewer tracks, instead of spreading the load.

The public footpath leading on to Deadman’s Cross has become very poached, and members of the association are asked not to use tracks used by walkers in very wet conditions. 

The path where the home-made sign has been erected is not a formal public footpath, but has been historically used by walkers and riders for years as a short cut behind the houses, thus avoiding the narrow and slippery road down the hill at Oldroft.

The majority of horse users who live in the Oldcroft area share the desire of the local residents to preserve the beauty of the area in which they also live.

Horses are living things and can be unpredictable.  Traffic is increasing and not everyone is considerate and it can be very alarming for a horse if vehicles speed past not allowing much room.  Therefore, horse users seek to keep off the busy roads as much as possible to avoid possible accidents. 

The British Horse Society recommends that horses should be ridden two abreast (for safety) as this will prevent a vehicle trying to speed past.  Most riders will go single-file if a car approaches, however, if one of the horses is a youngster it may be safer to stay side-by-side.  Horses will not become ‘used to traffic’ unless it goes out and sees it!  They have to learn – preferably from good experiences shown by considerate drivers.

Surely being delayed by a few seconds in a vehicle after work, is not too much to ask to avoid a possible accident?  Unfortunately, most riders have experienced ‘near misses’ with traffic that is not prepared to slow down or wait a few moments.   The fact that drivers pay taxes to be on the road, does not give them the right to drive dangerously.

We do not believe that a “them and us” attitude is helpful, nor is it helpful to label all equestrians as “obnoxious riders”.  No reasonable person would suggest that all motorists should be castigated just because of the anti-social behaviour of a few, so in the same way your letter writers should not be so quick to criticise all equestrians.

There are over 10,000 accidents involving horses on our roads every year and many horses and riders are killed. Good reasons why horse riders would prefer not to be riding on roads!

Horses are flight animals and if a stick or anything else is waved at them, they will automatically want to flee from the possible danger. 

Threats to “receive a more traditional foresters’ response” and “reprisals” and using words like “battle” and “warpath” are not helpful.

The Association is trying to promote good and safe behaviour with horse users and has a code of practice, so please do not tar us all with the same brush – it is our Forest too - to be respected and enjoyed by the majority.'

January 2008

Proposal to FODDC for funding

The European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development has made available £28 million of funding for counties in the South West of England. As you can imagine there are masses of criteria that have to be met to access such funding but we are delighted to tell you that the Forest of Dean District Council are supportive of our outline project proposal at a cost of an estimated £50-100k per annum for inclusion in their bid. In fact, our proposal has been included in their written first stage which is an  initial expression of interest to DEFRA (who are the managing authority for the programme in the UK). Feedback to FODDC is scheduled to be made by 31 January 2008. If successful, then we are going to need help and advice from you, your partners and friends who could help us put together realistic costings and identify sources of match funding (this could be voluntary work hours which are given a value). Please email Jenny Carling on jenny.j.carling@btinternet.com  if you feel you have skills or knowledge that could be of use. If the FODDC is successful in the first stage, it will then have to submit a full bid by 23 May 2008 which will then enter the competitive stage and the Regional Selection Panel will make its decisions by July 2008. The project will last 7 years finishing in 2013.

 

Project idea

The idea centres on creating a cohesive bridleway/restricted byway network throughout the Forest of Dean District together with developing a Festival based at and around Speech House Hotel.

The concept of a cohesive network is supported by Natural England, The Forestry Commission, DEFRA and Gloucestershire County Council. The creation of such a network would benefit:

TOURISM

ECONOMY

GREENING

 

HEALTH