PLANS have been unveiled to ban 4x4 vehicles and motorcycles from a picturesque Peak District byway have been unveiled in a bid to halt the environmental damage being wrought by the machines.
The Peak District National Park Authority wants to enforce its first ever Experimental Traffic Order, which would exclude motorised traffic from Chapel Gate, a 3km track skirting Rushup Edge, a high ridge between Chapel-en-le-Frith and Edale.
If the plan is approved next month, the trial would last for 18 months, giving time for repairs and recovery, and for the authority to assess its success in conserving the national park landscape.
After that the authority may decide to make the ban permanent, to extend the trial, or simply discontinue it.
Rights of way manager Mike Rhodes said: "Chapel Gate is officially classified by the Highway Authority as a Byway Open to All Traffic (Boat), which makes it a legal route for 4x4s and trail bikes.
"But it is now in a shocking state, with deep ruts, erosion and water damage.
"We have taken advice from the independent Peak District Local Access Forum which recommended temporary restrictions as a last resort after other options had been explored.
"The authority has the power to make such orders to conserve the natural beauty and tranquillity of the landscape, and we believe that the conservation issues may outweigh the route's recreational use by 4x4s and trail bikes."
The authority said it was consulting a wide range of organisations, including the Peak District Vehicle User Group, the Ramblers, the British Horse Society, Country Land and Business Association, local councils, highways authorities and emergency services.
Anyone interested may respond by January 28 – details are available on www.peakdistrict.gov.uk/chapelgate or call 01629 816200.
A decision is expected shortly afterwards in the light of the feedback.