Residents plagued by 'invading army of green laners' say they have been let down by local council

Rural residents plagued by “an invading army” of so-called “green laners” say they have been let down by their local authority.

A rural track showing an old drainage channel on the right. Vehicles are now “eating into” the side of the banking. (Credit: LDRS)

The criticism follows an admission by Kirklees Council that it does not have a policy in place to repair tracks and roads damaged by motorbikes and souped-up 4x4s.

People living in the Holme Valley say green laners – who frequently turn up in convoys to tackle dirt tracks, narrow lanes and winding roads categorised as byways open to all traffic, or BOATs – have caused damage estimated at hundreds of thousands of pounds.

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However the pastime is legal and not prohibited by law.

Locals say this “water feature” has been deliberately carved out by 4x4s during the winter after dark. (Credit: LDRS)

Now a senior figure on the council has confirmed that it does not have a specific policy on carrying out repairs to public rights of way – and that it prioritises “highways defects” based on “risk”.

That has enraged locals living in the hills around Holmfirth. They have demanded that the council “get tough” with offenders who gouge out and wreck tracks with their vehicles.

One woman said: “I have lost 18 months of my life dealing with this. It’s been a living hell – constant torment every weekend. It’s exhausting because it’s relentless. It wears you down.

“These hills have become a free playground for these people. It’s like an invading army every weekend because a lot of them don’t even live round here. They can turn up at 8.30am and be here all day. Some turn up in big rigs fitted with massive lights at two o’clock in the morning when you’re at your most vulnerable.

“They’re abusive and aggressive and intimidating and they don’t care about local people. They are the most selfish individuals out there. To see your environment being violated is very dehumanising and upsetting. It’s costing all of us in terms of the value of our homes not to mention our mental health. It’s costing them nothing.

“As for the council, it could create a policy if it wanted to. It’s ineffectual. The council needs to get tough with this activity. Don’t work with these people. We are the victims here.”

The council’s Cabinet Member for Environment, Coun Naheed Mather, said: “Kirklees Council is working in partnership with West Yorkshire Police to help tackle inappropriate activity relating to recreational vehicles causing damage.

“We have recently completed a consultation, which will restrict vehicle access to several locations that have suffered damage as a result of inappropriate use. Highways defects are categorised and actioned based on risk.

“The council does not have a specific policy on damage deemed to be caused by recreational vehicles but as the responsible body for the maintenance of the highways network and public rights of way across the district, anyone encountering problems or damage should report this to the council.”

In April the council advertised its intention to introduce a Public Spaces Protection Order (PSPO) at Yateholme in Holmbridge near Holmfirth, which would create a restricted area for four-wheeled vehicles.

It would prohibit unlicensed four-wheeled vehicles, though motorcycles would not be affected. Any unauthorised drivers could face a fine of up to £1,000.

Local councillor Donald Firth ismissed talk of consultation.

He said: “Nobody is talking to us. As for reporting damage, local people have reported it and they have got nowhere. Kirklees have done nothing. Quite simply, the council is not going to come out and fix these roads.

“They need to come out and see the scale of the problem. Then they might think about putting a policy in place.”

Damage to both highways and public rights of way can be reported to [email protected].