West End residents and environmentalists have queried plans to introduce quad bike tours to the Railway Trail in Somerset.
Members of the public issued a statement earlier today describing their qualms.
The proposal was approved by former Minister of the Environment Sylvan Richards, although it would have to pass other legislative hurdles before the bikes could operate.
The excursions would use all-terrain vehicles, or ATVs, for visitors to embark on guided tours along the trail.
According to Mr Richards’s statement online, the idea was for “low-powered silenced ATV’s along part of the railway trail in Somerset only”.
No tours would operate on Sundays, and portions of the trail would be off-limits.
The Royal Gazette was unable to get a response on Friday regarding the status of the plan, which has drawn opposition on social media.
The environmental group Greenrock is also seeking details. Executive director Jonathan Starling lamented the lack of consultation.
Mr Starling said: “Members of the public have been in touch and voiced their opposition to the proposal.”
Area residents were concerned over rumours that the motorised tours would include access to Hog Bay Park. Mr Starling said Greenrock had “some reservations”.
“While we can appreciate visitors getting to know our beautiful nature reserves, the use of ATVs doesn’t seem the right way to do so,” he said.
Mr Starling accepted its use for those with mobility issues but remained “concerned about the precedent it would set”.
“The Railway Trail and nature reserves are supposed to be areas of active commuting — walking, jogging and cycling — and generally areas for peaceful contemplation of our island’s nature and beauty,” he said. “This proposal would seem to run counter to that, and there’s the added concern of damage to the trails.”
The group was consulting with other organisations, and Mr Starling called it “disappointing” that none had been approached.
“Through consultation, things like this could be troubleshooted early on, and win-wins identified,” he said.
“Sometimes that’s not possible, but more often than not, it is. We would hope that the new Government makes public consultation on policies central to their decision-making process — and it would be fantastic if entrepreneurs also engaged the relevant organisations early on too so that we could avoid problems or misunderstandings.”