Damaged country tracks could be closed to off-road vehicles

COUNTRYSIDE groups, parish councils, off-road drivers and walkers are set to be asked for their views on placing traffic restrictions on two “sensitive” green lanes that lie within the Peak District National Park, to protect them from erosion.

The national park authority has written to organisations such as local councils and highway authorities, as well as recreational groups, to gauge opinion on whether restrictions should be put in place at Long Causeway, between Bamford and Sheffield, and Roych Clough, near Chapel-en-le-Frith.

The former has previously been a protest spot for members of the Friends of the Peak District group, who wanted to raise awareness of the badly-damaged state of the trail.

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During the 28-day consultation period, groups are being asked if traffic regulation orders are needed or not to protect these lanes from being eroded by off-road motor vehicles.

Those groups which say such orders are needed will then be asked to consider what form they should take and how long the orders should be in place. Those who claim these orders are unnecessary will instead be asked what other measures should be implemented instead to prevent further damage to the routes.

Christopher Pennell, chairman of the Peak District National Park Authority’s audit, resources and performance committee, said: “Long Causeway and the Roych are routes identified as priority areas where we are looking to improve the management of green lanes.

“User groups on all sides are agreed that these sites need managing in a better way and this consultation gives them the chance to highlight the ways they would like to see this done.”

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Once the relevant bodies have been consulted, members of the park’s audit, resources and performance committee will consider the issue at a meeting on Friday, July 20.

If then members decide some sort of restriction should be considered a draft order will be prepared.

A public consultation will then be held during the autumn.

A spokesman for the authority said: “The current consultation is potentially the first stage of a lengthy legal process and interested individuals can only make comments through one of the recreational user groups or statutory bodies.

“To comply with strict legal processes that have to be followed, individual comments sent to the Peak District National Park Authority cannot be considered at this stage.”

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Traffic regulation orders have previously been used within the Peak District National Park to protect lanes and tracks from being further eroded by motor vehicles such as quad bikes.

One such order was put in place on Chapel Gate, near Edale, which had become deeply rutted owing to overuse by 4x4 vehicles and trail bikes.

The issue has been a vital one for campaigners from groups such as the Friends of the Peak District and Peak Horsepower, who say that off-road vehicles have been making such tracks unsafe for other users.

A previous protest which was held at Stanage Pole which lies on the Long Causeway, attracted more than 100 families, hikers and horse riders.

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Protesters walked from Redmires and Dennis Knoll along Long Causeway and beneath Stanage Edge but horse riders who had also arrived to show their support had to turn back as Long Causeway had been so badly damaged by motorbikes and 4x4 vehicles.

Last year, the Peak District National Park Authority agreed an extra £100,000 in funding to try and tackle the problem of erosion being caused by off-road vehicles.

One of the aims of the cash was to create the capacity to potentially deal with more traffic regulation orders, such as the ones now being proposed.