Trail riders question motive behind 4x4 bans in Edale and Chinley

The Trail Riders Fellowship has questioned the Peak District National Park Authority’s agenda, after it banned vehicles from using green lanes in Edale and Chinley last Friday.

By The Newsroom
Thursday, 6th February 2014, 3:00 pm
Off road motorcyclists from the Trail Riders Fellowship hold 'Right to Roam' protest in the Peak District
Off road motorcyclists from the Trail Riders Fellowship hold 'Right to Roam' protest in the Peak District

Chapel Gate, a bridleway south west of Edale, and the Roych, a dirt track near Chinley, are both now subject to full traffic orders, which exclude trail bikes and four-by-fours.

The permanent legal orders relate to a 3.5 kilometre stretch of the Roych that is part of the Pennine Bridleway, and a three-kilometre stretch of Chapel Gate which skirts Rushup Edge.

The authority hopes the ban will safeguard the natural beauty and special characteristics of the landscapes and the amenity for other users.

The fellowship said it was “disappointed but not surprised” by the decision, which marks the public body’s second attempt to close the routes.

An order for the Roych was originally agreed in July, but since then a small section has been repaired by Derbyshire County Council so the decision was brought back for review before it was implemented.

An earlier attempt to close Chapel Gate was ruled “illegal” and “irresponsible” by the High Court in 2012 and the trail was reopened.

Richard Simpson, of the fellowship, said that the audit, resources and performance committee, which coordinated the closure, was chaired by Christopher Pennell, who is also a gold Peak District guardian.

He said: “No lanes were closed by the authority prior to Mr Pennell’s appointment. The fellowship can only wonder at how a situation where a key supporter of a political group that has led the campaign to remove vehicular rights was allowed to chair a committee tasked with making a series of quasi-judicial decisions on the same issue was allowed to arise. Peak residents should note that, although the authority is putting up charges, sacking staff and cutting services in response to budget cuts, it has allocated yet more funds for the coming year to its campaign to drive motorcyclists away from the national park. We are asking who is driving this agenda and what their motives might be.”

Christopher said that there were some 300 green lanes usable by motorised vehicles in the park but that both these routes crossed areas of outstanding natural beauty. He said: “Chapel Gate passes through wildlife areas with the highest protection designation in Europe and has historic interest as a pack horse route. We have visited the routes several times and have listened to arguments from all sides. On balance we have decided that the conservation of the natural beauty of these landscapes outweigh unrestricted recreational motorised use on them.”