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Battlemead Common and horse riding discussed by Local Access Forum

Battlemead Common and the risks equestrians face when riding in the Royal Borough were both topics discussed by the Local Access Forum on Tuesday, June 29.

The forum heard that some groups would like to see increased public access to Battlemead Common.

The site, off Lower Cookham Road, was bought by the council and opened in August last year.

However conservationists feel access for walkers and dogs should be restricted in favour of protecting wildlife.

Lynne Peperell, representing WildCookham, spoke on behalf of the group’s chairman, Mike Copland.

“There are very few places in the borough where priority is given to wildlife and we are very keen to see Battlemead be one of those places,” she said.

“It’s got rare and precious wildlife and has great potential for biodiversity net gain, so we’re very keen to keep dogs on leads.”

Jacqui Wheeler, parks and countryside access officer for Windsor and Maidenhead said a review into Battlemead Common is currently underway.

“The review that’s taking place at the moment is to try to take into consideration everyone’s points of view and come up with changes, possibly, to the draft management plan,” she said.

The final review outcomes will be finalised later this month.

Ms Wheeler also announced that a new member has been accepted onto the accessibilities working group for Battlemead, a dog walker who wants to represent the dog walking community.

She said: “I think that’s the only fair thing to do so consensus can be worked towards.”

The forum also discussed the results of a riding survey which found that 65 per cent of riders had experienced unpleasant and threatening behaviour from motorists in the borough.

The purpose of the survey was to gain insight into horse-riding experiences and make recommendations for improvements.

It was carried out by the riding and multi-user sub-group which aims to improve safety and minimise risk for equestrians by expanding the off-road multi-use network.

Completed by riders throughout the Royal Borough the survey found that motor vehicles presented the highest safety-related issues on-road, with respondents reporting worsening behaviour over the last 24 months.

Anne Woodward, presenting the survey said riders ‘don’t use roads by choice, we much prefer to be riding off-road’ but often have little option’.

Only 22 per cent of public rights of way in the Royal Borough are accessible for equestrians and many bridleways end at a main road.

The biggest dangers equestrians face riding off-road are dog attacks, often because dog owners or dog walkers do not have the animals under control.

Find links to the full reports of the forum and a link the forum video here.

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