‘Green lane’ ban quashed

Posted: 4th December 2012

A national campaign group that is dedicated to keeping open Britain’s rural ‘green lanes’ to 4x4s and motorcycles has triumphed in a High Court challenge to an experimental ban on the use of a Peak District track by mechanically-propelled vehicles.

Country LaneThe Trail Riders Fellowship (TRF) says that the 2.7km route through the national park is an important public resource which should be kept open to all. However, the Peak District National Park Authority argues that the Chapel Gate route, between Chapel-en-le-Frith and Barber Booth, has been so badly churned up by off-road vehicles that walkers are being forced off the path, causing damage to areas of conservation interest.

The TRF mounted a judicial review challenge to the authority’s August 2011 decision to make an experimental traffic regulation order (ETRO) which banned mechanised vehicles from the route.

Mr Justice Ouseley rejected the Fellowship's arguments that the order could not be seen as genuinely experimental and that the authority should have considered only banning four-wheel vehicles, leaving the route open to motorcycles. However, quashing the ETRO, the judge ruled that a crucial public document on which a consultation exercise had been based was flawed and did not accurately identify the nature and purpose of the experiment.

The ruling means that the authority will have to go back to square one and must embark on a lengthy and costly procedure, including consultations and a possible public inquiry, if it wishes to make a full traffic regulation order, restricting the use of the track to walkers and equestrians alone.