The British Horse Society is urging all equestrians to respond to the Forestry Commission’s consultation The Long–Term Role of the Public Forest Estate in England. The consultation seeks the views of all forest users on the future long term sustainable role of the public forest estate.

The BHS is concerned at increasing reports of riders being charged a fee to use public forests, and encourages all equestrians to use this consultation period to object to the Forestry Commission’s discriminatory behaviour towards equestrians.

British Horse Society Director of Access, Safety & Welfare, Mark Weston, said: “There has been an increase in the number of forests where riders are required to purchase a permit to access them. These are public forests where access for walkers & cyclists is free of charge, and access for equestrians should be free as well.’’ BHS Regional Access & Bridleways Officer (RABO) for southern region, Janice Bridger, said: “Since becoming RABO, the Forestry Commission’s discriminatory policy towards equestrians is frequently brought to my attention for a variety of reasons. Those on low incomes cannot pay to access safe off-road riding; some riders refuse to pay on principle to ride on what is public land; riders are expected to raise funds to surface tracks that other user groups can then use; and the difficulties of being able to make a day visit.

The Forestry Commission’s policy is incompatible with government initiatives to increase access to the countryside for all and encourage more physical activity in all socio-economic groups. It is also incompatible with Rights of Way Improvement plans which do not rely on paying for public access. Several Local Access Forums in the south have expressed their opposition to the Forestry Commission’s policy on equestrian access.”

Responses to the consultation must be received by 28 September. Only the access section need be completed. Equestrians can also download a copy of the Society’s ‘Say No to permits for equestrians’ leaflet, and send it to the Commission. A copy can be downloaded from the campaign pages at A copy of the consultation document can be downloaded at