Fencing starts to go up around Long Valley MoD Area. Concerning times!

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S Updated January 06, 2019
Construction Begins On Fence Around Long Valley

If you are a local rider of the approximate 65km of trails in the Long Valley area in North East Hampshire your heart probably recently sank as fencing started to go up around this Military of Defense land earlier in January 2018.

This fence is to close off the area around Long Valley, a 940-acre military training area between Aldershot and Fleet. Concerning because cyclists, walkers, families and dog walkers have had access to and been using this land for decades.

This is military land and clearly, the Army needs to use it for training and must have priority but surely there is room for both user groups and more they have been sharing it now for decades. 

The local Trail Action Group (TAG) who represent local mountain bikers in the area have been trying for 5 years to get a dialogue going with the Defense Infrastructure Organisation (DIO) who own the land. Their aim has been to help the MoD via the (DIO) communicate with civilian user groups to ensure people understand how to share the land. Up until this month, this offer had always been rebuffed by the DIO! Thankfully though they have this month been invited to meet with the DIO. There is even recent sounds that the gates should be open when the land is not in use. Let's hope this is the case. How this works practically needs to be worked through. 

Let's hope they DIO will reach a compromise that keeps controlled access to this area for all the user groups that have been using it for years. We will be watching this very closely.

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Corrections to the above
The above is mostly accurate, however there is one correction required: TAG have not been invited to meet with DIO this month. There was a meeting last February between DIO and TAG yet in spite of a commitment to follow up meeting being recorded in the minutes DIO have now reverted to type, and are not engaging with the local MTB community.

We will continue to remind DIO of the commitments given by MOD that the lands will remain open when not in use for military training, and a lack of manpower available to lock and unlock the gates must not be used as an excuse to restrict or limit public access.

Hope this clarification helps - Simon Brown, current TAG Chair.
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Fencing around Long Valley MOD Land
It is interesting to note how frequently the access to this land is now restricted. Despite this area in my experience almost never being in use at weekends, the gates are locked nevertheless.
Access was permitted over Christmas and until this weekend then thereafter the gates are being locked again - why ? I think access to this area is now being restricted all of the time except for very limited periods despite there being no MOD activity on the land - something I always feared would happen. It will be interesting to see if, when the evenings become lighter, the gates are unlocked - I suspect not and envisage as currently, that most weekends the boards by the gates will show the land is being used when it will in fact be devoid of any human activity whatsoever....! Sad times for cyclists, runners, walkers alike.
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Training area fencing in Farnborough area.
Military firing ranges have operated a simple system of flying red flags when the public are not allowed to enter. A variation for other training areas could be that strategically placed notice boards indicate dates when the military are going to be active and public entry forbidden. At a time when the defence budget is so low it seems daft to fritter cash on expensive fences.
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