Headlines: January 25th, 2006

Local authorities are holding back from designating rural roads as Quiet Lanes because of the Government’s failure to publish regulations more than five years after the Transport Act, according to campaign group the CPRE. It had seen the Act as bringing hope to walkers, cyclists and horse riders because their needs are given greater priority on Quiet Lanes, which are shared use roads.The lanes are meant to be identified by highway authorities working with local communities but, the CPRE says, although local authorities can designate minor rural roads as Quiet Lanes under the Act they have been reluctant to do so in the absence of the Regulations.

Now the CPRE has written to the Transport Minister calling on the Government to publish those regulations without delay. It has named a series of local council areas where it believes progress is being hampered. They include Herefordshire where the council has told campaigners it is waiting for Government regulations and guidance before pursuing the matter. The same is true, the CPRE says, for Bracknell Forest Borough Council in Berkshire. Campaigners in Somerset also report Quiet Lanes dropping off the local agenda because of a lack of Government support through proper guidance.

Other examples include Cheshire where one project collapsed when district council funding was withdrawn and where only one small scheme has been completed so far and just one more is promised in the new Local Transport Plan. In Hertfordshire, where the local CPRE called for Quiet Lanes to be rolled out across the county, the County Council has committed only to monitoring existing Quiet Lanes in a pilot area and talking to neighbouring Buckinghamshire County Council about the possibility of developing Quiet Lanes in the Chilterns Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

Paul Hamblin, CPRE’s Head of Transport, said authorities were stalling on Quiet Lanes in the absence of regulations, despite frequent requests from local people for them to be established. “We urge the Government to help highway authorities take action to create a pleasant, less intimidating and safer country road network for the benefit of all users,” he adde