Byways Open to All Traffic [BOATs] in Hampshire

A Report by our volunteer sustainable transport specialist, Malcolm Smith

The South Downs National Park Authority (SDNPA) agreed to maintain its current arrangement with Hampshire County Council (HCC) at its meeting on 20 October 2022. The existing approach taken by HCC and endorsed by SDNPA officers is that HCC undertakes surveys of BOATs and places some restrictions on their use by ‘all road users’ through traffic regulation orders. It seeks to undertake maintenance with a higher priority given to BOATs in the National Park. The number of BOATs in Hampshire is significant: 68% of BOATs by length in the National Park fall within Hampshire.

The main issues relate to the use of motorised vehicles on BOATs and the damage they cause to the often-unsealed surface which can often hinder their use by walkers and cyclists. Intimidation of other users such as walkers and cyclists by motor vehicles has been highlighted by such users. There are sometimes calls for restrictions on the use of BOATs by motor vehicles which, in theory, can be carried out through traffic orders by the National Park Authority but there are resource implications by seeking to do this which are detailed in their report. However, during the consultation on the Government’s Landscape Review it is clear that it is considering restricting the use of motor vehicles on unsealed and unclassified roads which SDNPA has endorsed in its response to the consultation.

It is disappointing that SDNPA has chosen to maintain the current approach with HCC. In the absence of future national legislation this means that the current issues relating to BOATs are likely to continue. For

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