Off-roaders banned from green lane

Posted: 10th February 2015

GreenlanePedestrians, cyclists, equestrians and off-road vehicle drivers jostling for position on the nation’s green lanes is a very modern phenomenon – but the High Court had to delve back to the 17th century before deciding that a Peak District track should be a no go area for the internal combustion engine.

The Trail Riders Fellowship, a national organisation which champions the rights of off-road motorists, challenged a Government inspector’s decision – following two public inquiries – that the track should be classified as a bridleway and was thus off limits to motorised vehicles. The Fellowship argued that it should have been recognised as a byway open to all traffic (BOAT).

The earliest recorded reference to the track was in 1627 and the Fellowship pointed to a number of 19th- and 20th-century maps as evidence that it had for very many years been open for use by carts and carriages. It also argued that its use by off-road vehicles had become established over a period of more than 20 years.

The Court accepted that the inspector would have been justified on the evidence in classifying the track as a BOAT. However, in dismissing the Fellowship’s complaints, it rejected arguments that that was the only rational conclusion which he could have reached. It was ‘impossible’ to argue that his decision was perverse.