New group fighting for protection of national park's green lanes welcomes traffic ban

A NEW group established to highlight the damage caused by irresponsible use of green lanes in the North York Moors has welcomed a ban stopping four by fours, motor bikes and other traffic on a lane dubbed one of the 'worst examples' in the national park.

A walker struggles amid mud on the green lane at Coleson Bank Picture: North York Moors Green Lanes Alliance

The North York Moors Green Lanes Alliance (NYMGLA) will follow in the footsteps of groups in the Yorkshire Dales and Peak District national parks in providing a forum for horse riders, walkers and cyclists experiencing problems with green lanes or Unsurfaced Unclassified Roads (UUR).

Set up this month, Clive Proctor, one of the co-founders of the alliance, said the group will aim to work with the national park authority and North Yorkshire County Council (NYCC), which is responsible for green lanes, to counter the menace that off-road vehicles and other motorists are causing.

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The group has welcomed the implementation an 18-month Traffic Regulation Order by NYCC on one route that runs north along the valley of the Rover Dove, from the car park at Lowna, near Hutton-le-Hole to Rawson Syke.

Ruts fill with water making green lanes unpassable. Picture: North York Moors Green Lanes Alliance

The track, a favourite with walkers hoping to see the wild daffodils found in the area, had been turned into “quagmires” with deep ruts caused by motorbike and four by four drivers, making it difficult for both walkers and horse riders to use, Mr Proctor said.

“We hope that the ban will allow the daffodils to recover, and that the ruts can be filled in to allow walkers, cyclists and horse riders once again to use the track in safety and without difficulty,” he said. “But the only way to ensure that the damage does not happen again once the 18-month ban ends will be for the County Council to make the ban permanent.

“There are 201 unsealed routes in the National Park and 165 of them have been classified by the National Park Authority as being highly vulnerable and unfortunately this amount of environmental damage to our green lanes by off-roaders has in recent years become all too common, causing a significant nuisance to locals and damaging the routes to such an extent that other lawful users are either deterred or prevented from using them.”

It is hoped the group will also be able represent users in future cases, to counteract what Mr Proctor described as “organised off-roaders” who object to such bans.

Ruts fill with water making green lanes unpassable. Picture: North York Moors Green Lanes Alliance

Karl Gerhardsen, Head of Recreation and Access at the North York Moors National Park Authority, said the route at Lowna was one of the “worst examples in the park” where conflicting use had generated concern. Deep ruts caused by vehicles fill with water and not only damage the surface, but compact the soil so further water cannot train away, compounding the issue.

He said: “There are other examples of green lanes that are in a worst condition. In some places the only way to get through the deep ruts is to winch a car through.

“It is a really difficult problem to resolve.”

A NYCC spokesman said: “We are aware of the condition of our network of UURs, some of which can prove challenging to sustain, especially when many have no constructed surface at all and are simply comprised of the turf of the fields they cross. Where practical, we are willing to work with interested parties and partners to get these routes repaired.”

Anyone interested in joining the NYMGLA can email [email protected]