As Chair of the Local Access Forum, the statutory body that has been established to advise the Council on improving access to the countryside, it was very disappointing to see the written response to a question to be asked at this week’s Council meeting on the Monk’s Trod.

A resident has asked for the current temporary ban on a section of the route in the Elan valley, which has been in place for much of the last 20 years, to be made permanent.

This is precisely what the Local Access Forum has been asking for several years.

The answer from the Council is no and that they are looking for funds to do work to make it suitable for motor cycle use.


This section of the route is in a wilderness area of the Elan Valley and passes through natural peat moorland and various designated sites - the Claerwen National Nature Reserve, Elenydd Site of Special Scientific Interest, Elenydd Mallaen Special Protection Area and the Elenydd Special Area of Conservation.

It is a peaceful and tranquil place and the home to many species of birds who nest there.

Because of damage caused by four-wheeled motor cycle use, the Council issued a permanent order banning them from using it in 1990. This was followed in 2002 by a series of temporary orders banning motorcycle use as well.

This was briefly lifted a few years ago but was reinstated when it became clear that further damage was being caused. A temporary order remains in place.

One of the three key issues in the Council’s latest corporate plan is “Greener - We want to ensure a greener future for Powys, where our well-being is linked to that of the natural world, and our response to the climate and nature emergencies is at the heart of everything we do”.

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Finding ways to enable motor cyclists to disturb this wonderful natural environment does not fit in with this.

The Local Access Forum is not anti-motor cycle and indeed it has been active in making sure that other routes in less sensitive areas are maintained and kept open.

The concern is about the location; the section in question is unsuitable.
To compound the problem, the costs of the proposed work, as estimated several years ago, was north of £200k. This will no doubt have increased since then.

At a time when the Council is facing severe financial pressures, it is really difficult to understand why spending money in this way would be a priority. 

There are over 10,000 outstanding reports of problems with rights of way in Powys; surely any money would be better spent on addressing some of these.

It is not just the Local Access Forum who are pushing for a permanent motor cycle ban; many other stakelholders support this as well. 

The Council only appears to be listening to the motor cyclist user groups. I think the Council needs to think again and live up to its commitment to protect our environment.
Graham Taylor, Chair, Powys Local Access Forum