ARC FORWARD PLAN
ADVICE TO CLUBS ON SENSIBLE USE OF THE COUNTRYSIDE
The article in the 2005 ARC Handbook The future of motor sport and
recreation contains the words '... it would appear that the
use of vehicles in the countryside is set to become more restrictive and
the tide of public opinion continues to run against their use off
tarmac'. That rather pessimistic view had been given
credence in 2003 by the government attempting to curtail the existing
Town and Country Planning '14/28 day rule' under which motor sport takes
place without specific planning permission. The
restrictive effects of the Single Payment Scheme and cross compliance
regulations which were introduced in 2005 are now causing severe restrictions on motor
The latest news on the Natural Environment and Rural Communities [NERC]
Bill which is currently progressing through parliament is that
recreational driving in the countryside is effectively doomed.
More information about this will be made available in due course.
It is therefore of paramount importance that a responsible attitude is
adopted regarding the use of off-road vehicles in the countryside.
Important change affecting off-road events.
Following European Commission reforms to the Common Agricultural Policy
which applies to all EU member states, the link between production and
support ceased at the end of 2004. The Single Payment Scheme [SPS],
introduced by Regulation 1782/2003, replaced most crop and livestock
payments from January 2005. Farmers are now required to
demonstrate that they are keeping their land in good agricultural and
environmental condition and complying with a number of legal
requirements relating to the environment, public and plant health, and
animal health and welfare. Meeting these requirements is described
in the regulations as 'cross compliance'.
In March 2005, the UK government's Department for Environment, Food and
Rural Affairs [DEFRA] issued a guidance note stating that if a farmer
allowed any motor sport event to take place within the 10-month period
he had chosen in any year when the relevant land 'was at his disposal',
no payment claim could be made. This was because motor sport was
an activity considered 'inconsistent with land remaining in agricultural
The resulting restriction on motor sport was successfully challenged by
the Land Access and Recreation Association [LARA] which resulted in
revised DEFRA guidance being issued the following July in which motor
sport events were included in the same category as clay pigeon shoots,
car boot sales, equestrian events etc which are permitted up to 28-days
during the 10-month period. This is the present situation but
DEFRA has indicated that the situation will be reviewed at the end of
This guidance is still subject to the current so-called 14/28 day rule
which limits temporary change of use for motor sport events on any land
to 28 days in a calendar year of which not more than 14 days can include
The 28 days permitted under SPS does not in any way override the 14/28
day planning rule as regards racing/non-racing events.
However, the cross compliance conditions that farmers are required to
observe in order to receive SPS payments apply for the whole calendar
year to all the land in an agricultural holding, not just the area
entered into the SPS. The element of cross compliance that impacts
on motor sport events is the requirement to keep the land in good
agricultural and environmental condition [GAEC].
The use of set-aside land required under SPS for motor sport carries
certain restrictions and organisers should ensue that a minimum of
damage is caused by events particularly to the 'green cover' [grass,
various sown plants or natural regeneration]. Even minor damage
must be repaired promptly.
Land not in agricultural production cannot be used for 'non-farm
vehicular use' so that would preclude motor sport events.
Cross compliance also includes a requirement for farmers to prepare soil
management plans to prevent soil erosion and waterlogging. Farmers
will need to consider whether a motor sport event is likely to lead to
either of these conditions that would require restorative action.
As far as any public right of way is concerned, a motor sport event that
disturbs the surface of a 'visible' right of way may cause the farmer to
be in breach of cross compliance conditions. 'Visible' is defined
as 'visible as a route to a person with normal eyesight walking or
riding along it'.
This is a rough guide only and member
clubs are advised that they should keep themselves up to date with
DEFRA's advice to farmers and farming policy which may change at short
notice as this is an on-going issue. The 10-month rule is a key
aspect of being able to use land which clubs need to appreciate and
Clubs should already be aware of
the Guidance Note for LARA Members 'Single Payment Scheme,
Cross Compliance and Motor Sport' issued in August 2005.
ARC Countryside Access