Yorkshire residents fed up of 'relentless' convoys of green laners considering legal action

Fed-up residents in the Holme Valley say they are considering legal action to block off rural routes used by green laners.

It comes following “relentless” visits by convoys of green laners, often driving unlicensed vehicles, who wreck dirt tracks, narrow lanes and winding roads with souped-up 4x4s and trail bikes.

Residents are powerless to stop the pastime, in which drivers use routes categorised as byways open to all traffic, or BOATs (byways open to all traffic), as it is legal and not prohibited by law.

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But people living near Scaly Gate at New Mill near Holmfirth say they will take legal advice after Kirklees Council issued an 18-month Traffic Regulation Order (TRO) to shut nearby Cheese Gate Nab Side.

Green laners have been churning up roads in Kirklees

One local said: “Cheese Gate Nab Side now has concrete blocks at either end of it. If the council can impose a TRO there, they can do it here. And they must because we can’t stand it any more.”

Kirklees Council was approached for comment.

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People living in the vicinity of Scaly Gate say there have been several incidents with green laners who they described as intimidating and frequently abusive.

The most recent, which involved a 999 call to the police, occurred on Sunday when off roaders blocked an owner’s access to a field and, separately, to a nearby farm.

One resident said: “Winter is coming. We had a horrendous time last winter. They come flying through the lake and the mudbath that they’ve made.

“Then it’s stop/start, stop/start driving. They shine their lighting rigs into houses. They rev their vehicles. When they’re outside it’s horrific. But they think it’s hilarious. It’s day and night. It’s relentless.

“Even if the vehicles are legal that legality doesn’t mean they are nice people, so that argument is irrelevant. The nice ones are like unicorns.”

The argument over the use of rural roads has split the green laning community, with organised groups declaring themselves separate from those that confront residents.

Alex Davidson of the Green Lane Association (GLASS), the national user group representing motorised drivers on the network of unsurfaced rights of way in England and Wales, said it promoted and encouraged “responsible and sustainable” driving.

He said GLASS has an interest in all rights of way and unsurfaced highways with motorised propelled vehicle (MPV) rights in England and Wales including Scaly Gate.

He said: “It is important to differentiate between off-road driving and green lane driving. The former is illegal unless on private land and with the landowner’s permission. The green lanes which we speak of are all legal highways.

“Individuals driving illegally and anti-socially should not be members of our organisation. If it was found to be so then that member would be removed from our organisation.”

Mr Davidson said GLASS had contributed £4,000 towards unsurfaced road repairs in Kirklees, with the cash coming from its own funds.

However that represents only a fraction of the costs involved. Kirklees Council does not have a specific policy on carrying out repairs to public rights of way. Instead it prioritises “highways defects” based on “risk”

Speaking over the summer Coun Will Simpson, the council’s cabinet cember for culture and greener kirklees said: “Though there is not a dedicated budget to deal specifically with damage caused by recreational vehicles to public rights of way (PROW) or byways open to all traffic (BOAT), the council does have an annual maintenance budget of £50,000, which includes the repair of damage caused by recreational vehicles.”