A green-lane campaigner has hit out at the “misinformation and deliberate distortions of truth” pedalled by authorities with a “hidden agenda” of permanently banning such activities from the Peaks.
Nigel Bennett, chairman of the Peak and Derbyshire Vehicle User Group, which is a local body set up to engage with the Peak District National Park Authority, is keen to dispel the “many myths” he believes are being circulated.
“It is claimed that vehicle users churn up the countryside and damage trails,” said Nigel. “But this is not true. Defra has already confirmed that water erosion is the main reason behind trail damage – not vehicles.”
Nigel also believes accusations that motorcycles and 4x4’s intimidate other trail users are unfounded.
He said: “Vehicle users have access to just one per cent of all paths and trails in the Peak Park. So if people really are intimidated, then I’m sure they can use other routes.”
Nigel also believes that, as more and more routes have been closed to vehicles over the years, people “get the impression” that the activity is much more widespread than it actually is.
“Let’s be clear, the Peak District National Park Authority have a hidden agenda of removing vehicles from these routes,” said Nigel.
Mike Rhodes, access and rights of way manager for the Peak District National Park, said: “Damage is caused by a combination of factors: use damages the surface, and so does the weather. But if we can reduce the use (particularly by heavier vehicles) then we can reduce the damage.
“We are seeking to improve the management of green lanes. This involves various actions – working with Highway Authorities to improve surfaces, signage, voluntary management of use, and we are proposing some legal restraint on use on a small number of routes.
“We neither have legal powers, nor the desire, to remove ‘off-road’ vehicle users wholesale.”