To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will take steps to abolish limits on the number of permits for horse riding on his Department's land and towards the setting up of circular bridleway routes for each Ministry of Defence permit area; and if he will make a statement on any problems presently being faced by permit holders and those awaiting permits, in the Aldershot area.
It is Ministry of Defence policy to allow maximum use of its facilities for recreational purposes where such use is consistent with military requirements and with the interests of tenants and licensees and where it does not affect the local amenities and environment unreasonably. Within these parameters it is up to the local military commander, in consultation with the PSA estate surveyor, to decide to what extent horse riding may be permitted.The huge popularity of horse riding in the Aldershot area has necessitated the operation of a permit scheme so as to control the number of riders on MOD land. The number of permits issued is reviewed annually and reflects military training requirements and conservation interests, including the avoidance of soil erosion. In view of the large number of applicants on the waiting list, discussions were held with the British Horse Society in November last year with a view to doubling the number of permits but restricting the number of days each member of the public could ride. This proposal has not yet been accepted. It is not, however, my intention to abolish limits on the number of permits for horse riding in this area or to set up circular bridleway routes for each permit area.