Motorsport in the countryside
The Stroud and District Motor club is only too well aware that there is increasing pressure to restrict or ban all motor vehicle activity away from the tarmacked road. This has been reflected in recent legislation, most notably the Natural Environment and Rural Communities (NERC) Act 2006. Over many years the Club has paid scrupulous attention to liaising with the public who live along the routes taken by its trials, with the event organisers spending countless hours in discussion with various officials.
Although most of the route of our classic trials is on the normal public road network the “Observed Sections”, where the action takes place, are generally sited on unsurfaced lanes and tracks. Most of our Observed Sections are on public highways legally open to motorised vehicles (Byways Open to All Traffic or Unclassified County Roads), or on private land. A small number are on Restricted Byways or Bridleways which we are allowed to use under the provisions of Section 33 of the Road Traffic Act 1988, but only with the permission of the landowner and the Local Authority.
The MSA and ACU requirements for public relations – see below – are even more stringent for unsurfaced lanes and tracks than they are for the normal public road network and extensive local consultation is always necessary before any unsurfaced public highway is used for one of our events. All classic trials clubs, including the Stroud and District Motor Club, have rules which ban practising on Observed Sections between events. These requirements, rigidly enforced by both the clubs and the MSA/ACU, ensure that classic trials are welcomed in many rural communities – see “Local Communities” below.
All motorsport events are regulated and controlled by the MSA (for car events) and the ACU (for motorcycle events) and both organisations have strict requirements for public relations both before and after the event. Trials are run under rules which restrict average speeds to 30 mph (trials are not races), and observance of all speed limits. The Stroud and District Motor Club also advises against competitors depositing mud on the road. Competitors are required to follow the Country Code, giving way to walkers and horse riders and shutting gates when required to do so.
Our routes are selected to cause minimum disruption to those in isolated areas, and to the residents of the villages through which we pass. The club has also forged close links with rural communities. As a result many people see our trials as part of their local heritage, something to be cherished rather than feared, and they look forward to our annual visit with the enthusiasm of their parents and grandparents.