Farmers and residents in the Holme Valley have reiterated their concerns about coming face to face with motorbikes and drivers of 4x4s who take “a dangerous approach” to sharing footpaths and tracks with walkers and cyclists.
It comes less than a fortnight after campaigners against so-called “green laners” called for action to curb noise, disruption, threats and intimidation by groups that travel into the area from as far afield as Leicestershire and Liverpool.
It provoked a fierce response from green laning groups and advocates of the pastime, which is legal and not prohibited by law. Green laners use dirt tracks, narrow lanes and winding roads categorised as byways open to all traffic, or BOATs.
But farmers have told of being blockaded on their own land, of being frightened to walk or ride horses on surrounding lanes and of pregnant livestock being so terrified by speeding vehicles that they have aborted their young.
Some residents even claim they have been driven at by vehicles to force them off popular routes. Easter Sunday was described as “a busy day” on one key route, which attracted “a convoy of 4x4s” as well as motorbikes.
One local woman said: “The motorbikes seem to take the view that they have priority on a BOAT and show no regard for other more vulnerable user groups.
“The main use of a BOAT is as a footpath or bridleway; it is not a road. This is a dangerous approach to vehicular use especially when these tracks are busy with other users also.
“The off-roaders argue these tracks are roads but only behave like they are on a road when it suits them. We see either a complete disregard for residents or an unhealthy interest [in our properties]. We are not zoo animals.”
An official with the Green Lane Association (GLASS) said the organisation has been working with local groups to minimise illegal activity and has recently engaged with Kirklees Council to negotiate a Public Space Protection Order for some routes that would restrict access to “responsible users” only.
One supporter, a member of the Trail Riders Federation, called for “legitimate use” to be managed.
He added: “The legitimate enjoyment of off-tarmac vehicles spans all cultures around the globe. The UK has relentlessly tried to repress it, and frankly it’s not working. It’s just being driven to extremes and effectively underground.
“Disused quarries have been closed, thousands of miles of ancient byways have been declared as bridleways, resulting in the concentration of use on the few tracks remaining, and of antisocial behaviour like night and illegal running.
“What needs to happen is for legitimate use to be managed and a wider range of opportunities to be presented to those who wish to use the range of outdoor motorised activities now available.”
Local councillor Donald Firth has urged green laners to keep away from Kirklees and to “leave our roads to our local people and farmers”.