New strategy planned to manage 4x4s in the Peak Park

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A new policy to speed up the process of resolving problems caused by the inappropriate use of motor vehicles on unsurfaced routes is to be drawn up by the Peak District National Park.

Members of the Peak District National Park Authority’s audit, resources and performance committee backed the concerns of local residents and interest groups about the impact being caused by 4x4s and trail bikes on the condition of unsurfaced routes, which can make it difficult for walkers, cyclists and horse riders to use them.

They agreed to work with officers on preparing a revised strategy and policy to be considered by the full authority on December 2.

In the meantime meetings are to be called with senior police officers and councillors from the highways authorities that cover the national park to build on existing successful partnership work to tackle the issue and see if more can be done.

A new consultative group involving these organisations, user groups and interest groups will meet in early September to look at practical measures that can be done to resolve problems.

Christopher Pennell, chair of the audit, performance and resources committee, said: “This meeting was an opportunity to reflect on the real progress that has been made to manage 4x4 and trail bike use on unsurfaced routes in the national park.

“But it was also a time to hear and respond to the concerns expressed by people on both sides of the argument who want the momentum increasing, which is why we are recommending the strategy is updated and we look at finding ways of committing more money to this area of work at a time when the authority is facing budget cuts.

“No single group or authority can resolve this issue on their own. That is why we will continue to work in partnership with the police, local authorities, the Local Access Forum, 4x4 and trail bike user groups and a variety of recreation user groups, including horse riders, walkers and cyclists on these complicated issues.”

Members of the committee heard from eight public speakers who objected to the damage being done to the countryside by 4x4s and trail bikes and two who argued the problems would only be solved by working with motor vehicle user groups.

Although 4x4 use is often called ‘off-roading’ many unsurfaced countryside tracks in the national park are legally classified as roads called Byways Open to All Traffic which can be used by 4x4s and trail bikes.

Further information for on the issue of use of unsurfaced routes by 4x4s and trail bikes can be found at www.peakdistrict.gov.uk/vehicles .