Off-road vehicles given the go ahead on Yorkshire
In a bid to stop damage caused by so called 'leisure vehicles', the Yorkshire National Park Authority had imposed restrictions on the use of motorised vehicles on a number of routes. These 'green lanes' are ancient unsurfaced public roads and remain extremely popular with people walking in the Yorkshire Dales.
In a surprising decision, the High Court has recently (June 2009) overturned the limitations place on four of these routes. The appeal, bought by the Land Access Recreation Association (LARA) and two individuals, was started in July 2008 and will affect the routes below:
- Gorbeck Road, part of the Pennine Bridleway National Trail, currently a Byway Open to All Traffic (BOAT)
- Stockdale Lane, which is currently designated as a Bridleway
- Arncliffe Cote, curently part Bridleway, part BOAT
- Harber Scar Lane, currently part Bridleway
Dr Michael Bartholomew, who is chairman of the Yorkshire Dales Local Access Forum and a member of the National park's Consultative group on Green lanes said:
"The judge's decision to quash four TROs turned on a small, but decisive point of law.
"He held that the YDNPA's decision-making was flawed by a failure to balance the various duties laid on it by section 122 of the Road Traffic Act 1984.
"The judge's ruling is unlikely to be challengeable. However, the case is distinctly odd, for although the TROs on four green lanes have been quashed, it will almost certainly turn out to be the case that, on other grounds, three of the four have no motor vehicular rights on them anyway.
So there still may be some grounds for hope that further damage to these Green Lanes can be avoided. Because of the environmental sensitivity of these routes, the National Park Authority is asking for voluntary restraint from the users of recreational motor vehicles.
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“I find that most off roaders are very friendly, I have seen some very unpolite walkers when they have come across vehicle users.”
Andrew Porter, Mottram
“My experience of shared access, walkers with motororised or peddle vehicles is that a few are courtious to one another and most are discourteous and disrespectful of each others use of the countryside. Quad. and dirt bike users cause most of the issues with others. They are in the main arrogant and either intentionally or in ignorance go out and create, disruption, noise, fear and endangerment to others. Perhaps the solution is to issue permits, like fishing permits, registered to the bike identification and owner. That would pay towards policing and maintenance of the pathways and road upkeep. To get such a permit a mandatory practical and written test aimed around the "rules" of where they can go and how to behave could be written on the same lines as a driving test.”
David Stirling, Sheffield
“National Parks and legal rights of ways are for every man, women and child to enjoy, not for the select few! How this is managed is the key point here. compromise agreements can be found if people put their own selfish ideals to one side for once. England is a free land for everybody!”
Roy Gibson, Mossley
“On a BBC TV program an off roader said: "It's the skill to get the vehicle to cope with the terrain". Another way of reading that is to realise that if the green roads were in good condition, they'd be of no interest to the off roaders. They want the green roads to become an obstacle course with deep muddy puddles, uneven difficult to navigate surfaces. That makes it difficult for everyone else, including the emergency services. I can understand the excitement of tackling difficult terrain in an off-roader but do it on purpose designed facilities like disused quarries. In the same program A trail-bike rider says "...60 ramblers do more damage than one motorbike..." Another way of phrasing that would be "one motorbike does nearly 60 times more damage than one rambler". So where should the priorities lie, with maintaining the rights of 60 individuals or one? Indeed looking more closely at the issue, how does the same calculation work in respect the 4WDs, what's the "rambler equivalent" damage ratio? And let's bring speed into the calculation. An offroader will travel at, lets estimate, an average speed 6 times that of a walker. So the calculation is that for ten minutes enjoyment of a stretch of green lane by a biker, 60 ramblers will have had an hour's enjoyment, in other words the distance-covered to individual-enjoyment-time-benefit ratio is 1:1 for biker, 1:360 for ramblers (ten minutes bike travel by one individual at an average of 24kph on a 4km track compared to 60 minutes travel by 60 ramblers over the same track).”
Rob Sheffield, Sheffield
“Just a tuppence worth, there is a lot of emotive discussion about 4x4 use of BOATs and Greenlanes. From the perspective of someone who is a Walker and 4x4 driver, I feel that there should be a greater "come and Go" between the various groups of users. I have seen the damage done to foothpaths by walkers, turning some into boggy unpleasant areas, but have also seen the same damage done to byways by 4x4s Motor bikers, Horse-riders and Mountain bikers. No one group can claim to be blameless. I see a few people think "Offroaders should get involved in Conserving these roadways"...YES THEY SHOULD My local 4x4 club in conjunction with the County Council, actively participates in this activity. We have "Greenlane Maintenance Days" when, along with the Landowners, Horseriders, the Trailriders Federation and other Offroad clubs, we maintain and repair damaged paths and BOATs. This involves trimming back the undergrowth and trees to allow wind and Sun to dry the paths out and, with the help of the landowner, filling in ruts and "Bombholes" to return the byway to a usable state. This is carried out to County Council Specifications and is inspected to ensure the restorative work is of an acceptable standard. We have a Rights of Way Officer who liaises with the Local and County Authorities, Glass and other responsible bodies, to provide a lobby for the Offroad Fraternity in all the access decisions in our area. If the other Byway Users all worked together in this way, the problems would soon diminish. There will still be an irresponsible minority who will cause problems, but I we take evidential picture (especially of the offending vehicles "Red-wheeled!") and forward them to the Police and Local Authorities, they will take appropriate action, up to and including Seizure of said vehicle. Thanks for reading, Cal.”
Callum Mcgillivray, Portchester
“My wife and I used to enjoy walks on the hills with our two dogs, unfortunately having had her second episode of cancer, this is no longer possible. I own and drive a LandRover Freelander, and would dearly love to take my wife to these places that she can no longer walk to. I am a 50 year old paramedic and I take exception to some of the labels attached to 4x4 drivers. Clearly there are always some that will act irresponsibly, but that excludes many others who are being punished unfairly.”
John Reed, Middlesbrough
“The comments below from Ron are absurd. How can anything be discussed when you have single minded fools like him around. I am 36 years old, a Company Director who loves nothing more than taking my Children to the National Parks. I also like in my spare time to ride a road legal vehicle for leisure.......it's fun! I do this in a responsible way not breaking any laws and by sticking to the correct rights of way. How does this make me a "misfit, with no friends, no regard for other people and no care for the disappearing world." The World is not disappearing. Gravel and mud and stone do not disintegrate when ridden on. Have you see how much access walkers have on an Ordnance Survey map of the peaks? It's outrageous that people who undertake a leisure activity you do not agree with are met by such biggots. Before the World goes mad I think more access should be given to vehicles which in turn would probably see less of an intense effect on the few roads they have to ride.”
Chris A, Manchester
“Jeremy Bolwell thinks that so called 'off roaders' should build links with other user groups like farmers and walkers, but in reality these groups want to gang up on the drivers and have them excluded. It is all the other groups of users of public byways that do not want to compromise. Why should they compromise when the system is biased against drivers and they can get them banned so easily? I wonder why walkers damage to footpaths in the national parks is 'in keeping with the national parks', yet ruts in a few byways are unacceptable ? The pot calling the kettle black methinks. Ruts on a road are not 'ripping the countryside to pieces' and what exactly does a small number of recreational vehicles on byways have to do with the 'dissapearing world' (whatever that is). Whenever the emotive rants of the antis are studied they seem to say nothing.”
“Off roading where it damages dry stone walls, banks, trres and turns green lanes into rutted swamps is not in keeping with a National Park. Off roaders (and motorbike scramblers) should be kept to private land outside NP's. However, if - legally - they were to use NP land in a responsible way I wouldnt object. Lets see off roaders get involved in conservation, repairing any damage done, maybe being limited to permitted off road clubs using the lanes or permitted individual vehicles and building links with other users such as walkers, farmers etc then maybe compromise can be met.”
Jeremy Bolwell, Ludlow
“Off road vehicles were originally designed for a purpose (work related). These ugly monsters should not be allowed to rip our precious countryside to pieces, solely for the benefit of some misfit, with no friends, no regard for other people and no care for the disappearing world. KEEP OFF ROAD VEHICLES ON FARMLAND WHERE THEY BELONG.”
Ron Woodbridge, Northampton
The views expressed by contributors to this discussion are not necessarily those held by go4awalk.com.