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Yorkshire Dales Green Lane Alliance

“Yorkshire Green Lane what,” you may ask? Does it matter to us as runners? As more and more of us run trails and Fells rather than just jogging on roads the answer has to be “yes” it does. What is at stake here? What are the issues?

For years there has been an uneasy truce between the motorised and non-motorised users of the country side. When the National Parks were set up after the Second World War, for the peaceful enjoyment of the natural environment, no one envisaged trail bikes and 4X4 vehicles wishing to traverse the bridle ways and tracks on which we as runners, cyclists, horse riders and walkers attempt to pursue our chosen interests. Because of the uncertain legal status of many rural tracks it has proved very difficult to place a restriction on recreational motor usage. Local authorities working in isolation face expensive legal challenges from the 4X4 lobby when they attempt to impose TROs (temporary restriction orders) on bridleways.

North Yorkshire County Council is still procrastinating over imposing permanent orders to protect green lanes such as Deadman’s Hill, the track from Middlesmore to Nidderdale over to Arkleside in Coverdale, via Scar House Reservoir. The second network of green lanes needing protection are those criss-crossing Blubberhouses Moor. Both areas had temporary banning orders imposed on them whilst repairs were carried out but as soon as the bans were lifted and the motorised brigade returned the tracks were rendered impassable, not just for us but paradoxically to such an extent that even the trail bikers could not traverse them!

The third trail under threat is Turbary Road, a superb lane from Tow Scar Lane (676 763) to Turbary Pasture following a natural limestone shelf for much of the way. Its wonderful position gives superb views across to Whernside but underfoot its beauty has been trashed, the surface replaced by mud and deep ruts. This is another route of uncertain legal status. If its status is that of a BOAT (byway open to all traffic) then securing a permanent closure will be difficult.

It is not only locally that Green Lane Defence Groups are springing up, groups have formed to protect green lanes on the North York Moors, in Kent and The Peak District, established by people outraged at the destruction of lanes and byways in their locality.

All this destruction of our trails could be stopped by legislation from central government setting out that all green lanes should be reclassified as “restricted byways” which would automatically prohibit all recreational motors. So next time you are running a trail with three foot ruts and swamps ruining your day think about the issue of Green Lanes, then write to your MP asking why the recommendations of the Green Lane Protection Group (an alliance of MPs and Peers) have not been acted upon.

For more information – ydgla@europe.com

CJB 10-03-16