News

08-02-2012 Green roads closed 'experimentally'!

Our friends at the TRF (www.trf.org.uk) campaign tirelessly for the rights of trail riders, while we concentrate more on road riding, but many of the issues we face are similar, or are derived from the same underlying dogma.

Some years ago there were calls to ban motorcycles from certain stretches of public highway in a similar manner to Germany and Austria, but the methods employed weren't always straightforward. It seems access to certain routes in the Peak District are under threat again. The following info is from the TRF:

"As many of you will doubtless already be aware Chapel Gate Byway in the heart of the Peak District is currently closed to all motor vehicle traffic by virtue of a Experimental Traffic Regulation Order (ETRO).

Quite what this experiment is supposed to be testing has been the subject of much speculation and to this day remains rather hard to determine. What is not in doubt however is the threat that this "experiment" poses to our future access. Not just to Chapel Gate of course but to the whole Peak Park area.

I believe that this order, if made permanent would be the thin edge of a very large wedge. The future of our access in the Peak District is important for a lot of reasons, not least because this national park boasts some of the best and most accessible green lanes in the country but it's more than just that. If this blanket closure goes ahead in its current form then it will be a major victory for those organisations and individuals who seek nothing less than to destroy all legal recreational vehicle access in this country.

They may be starting with the national parks but unless we act decisively they will not stop until all of our activities are illegal in every county in this country.

Exaggeration? You decide for yourself but I don't think so. Access to our national parks is a national issue and I believe that it requires nothing less than a national response.

Strangely and due to the bizarre way in which the relevant legislation is worded, anyone who wishes to object to the adoption on a permanent basis of an experimental TRO is required to do so during the first six months of that experiment.

Now quite how you are supposed to comment meaningfully on an experiment that is less than a third of the way through is beyond me but despite the inherent silliness of this it is what the relevant legislation requires.

So, as the first six months of the Chapel Gate ETRO expires at the end of February 2012 we have about three weeks in which to oppose the permanent adoption of the current closure.

So what are you waiting for? Lets get objecting!

Letters or Emails stating your objection to the permanent adoption of the experimental TRO should be sent to:

Mike Rhodes
Access and RoW Manager
The Peak District National Park Authority
Aldern House
Baslow Road
Bakewell
DE45 1AE

or

Email: mike.rhodes@peakdistrict.gov.uk

Some points you might like to consider while writing your objection:

Lack of access - recreational vehicle users have considerably less access in the Peak District than other user groups and this has been reduced even further by the NERC Act 2006.
The importance of Chapel Gate - Chapel Gate is not only an important route in it's own right but is a vital link in the wider green lane network, its loss would cause real harm and distress to legitimate vehicle users.
Surface improvements - one of the key concerns expressed by the authority was displacement of users (vehicular and others) onto environmentally sensitive adjacent land because of surface damage. This damage has now been repaired by the County Council.
Suitability for vehicles- many anti vehicle campaigners claim that this route is not suitable for modern vehicles but Derbyshire CC have confirmed that the repairs carried out were to "byway standard" and the surface is now suitable for use by trail bikes and 4x4s.
Proportionality - The terms of the experimental order represent the most draconian restriction the authority can impose. This is wholly out of proportion to any real problems.
Alternatives - There are a wide range of alternative management options available to the authority that could be effective but which fall short of the blanket ban proposed by this ETRO. It would be grossly unreasonable of the authority to adopt the most restrictive option with out at least trialling less restrictive options first.

Finally, it is worth pointing out that the authority can vary the terms of this order while it is in force so if you favour an alternative solution you could suggest that they use the remaining year of this "experiment" to explore other options!

Of course this list is not exhaustive and I'm sure other people will have other points to make. Feel free to use all, some or none of these but please do object."

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