Peak Park Authority announces ban on 4x4s and trail bikes on The Roych track above Hayfield.
The Peak District National Park Authority has announced a permanent exclusion of 4x4s and motorbikes from the Roych, a popular Derbyshire green lane which forms part of the Pennine Bridleway ' to protect,' it says, 'the special qualities of the national park.
The move to ban motorised recreational vehicles under a Traffic Regulation Order (TRO) - the exclusion does not include wheelchairs or electric disability scooters and Trampers - is the latest move in an ongoing legal chess match between the PDNPA and groups representing 4x4 and trail bike users and should come into force in around four to six weeks time.
It follows a public consultation during which the Authority received around 2,500 responses, with over 1,000 objecting to the proposed TRO and more than 1,235 individuals and organisations in support of a ban. The 3.5km track has been repeatedly repaired, but heavy use and, in particular, detouring by 4x4s to avoid difficult sections of the track has damaged the repaired sections despite various voluntary restrictions.
Protecting Natural Beauty
The Authority is keen to stress that the decision, part of an ongoing plan to manage use in the Peak wasn't taken lightly:
“We considered partial regulation,' says Christopher Pennell of the PDNPA. 'But past attempts, on a voluntary basis, to partially restrict use by 4x4s and trail bikes have failed. The status quo was unacceptable and doing nothing was not an option.
“In the light of evidence and feedback during public consultation, our members felt they had to use the powers Parliament gave them to restrict motorised recreational traffic in this particular case to protect the natural beauty and amenity of the Roych and its surrounding, stunning landscape.”
The End Of Vehicles On The Roych?
Is this the end of motorised vehicles on the Roych? At face value, yes, but previous exclusion orders have been subject to legal challenges by groups representing drivers and motorcyclists with at least one, albeit temporary, order on the Chapel Gate track overturned on a technicality last year.
Interestingly the PDNPA is committed to managing vehicular use in the Peak more effectively and, in its own words, 'has committed extra resources to addressing the issue of managing green lanes, despite budget cuts in other areas'.
The issue isn't financial, says the Authority - the County Cuncil is responsible for the upkeep of roads including green lanes - but about protecting the natural beauty of the landscape, which tracks like the Roych have an influence on.
To put it in perspective however, Natual England invested some £600,000 in the Roych as part of the Pennine Bridleway project, but over the past few years a combination of factors, including vehicle use, has caused serious damage to large sections of the track.
Does this mean more Traffic Regulation Orders and bans on other problem green lanes? Not necessarily, the Peak Park rights of way team is keen to stress that tracks will be dealt with individually on a case-by-case basis to find the most appropriate possible solution.
Two other tracks in the area - Chapel Gate and the Long Causeway on Stanage are currently temporarily closed for repair works by Derbyshire Country Council - and subject to consultations with decisions expected in the autumn.
If that seems like a slow process, bear in mind that the PDNPA has a duty to consult all user bodies and the public before taking action and if that seems like a negative thing to you, ask yourself whether you'd prefer a world where decisions affecting major user groups and a popular Natiional Park could be rushed through without consultation?
More background at www.peakdistrict.gov.uk/looking-after/vehicles.