A High Court move which could have opened up a Peak District bridleway to the roar of off-roading motor cycles has failed.
Campaign group the Trail Riders Fellowship challenged a decision that blocked motor cycles and four wheel vehicles from using a right of way that connects Pilsley village with the A619.
However Mr Justice Collins rejected the group’s claim that it was wrong to designate the route, known as Bradley Lane, as a bridleway rather than a “byway open to all traffic” (BOAT).
Designation as a bridleway instead of a BOAT means that no motorised vehicles can use the route. It is limited to pedestrians, horse riders or pedal cyclists. Trail riders have in the past used it for motorcycles and were fighting to continue that use.
An inspector for the Secretary of State for Environment Food and Rural Affairs’ made the modified designation last June, after Derbyshire County Council initially sought to have it confirmed as a BOAT.
Although the judge ruled that, while it would have been open to the inspector on the evidence to conclude that Bradley Lane should be designated as a BOAT, it was also lawful for him to conclude that it is a bridleway.
Mr Justice Collins said: “That Bradley Lane is a highway is not disputed. In order to decide whether it was a vehicular highway, the inspector had to consider such historical documentary evidence as was available.
“In addition, if he was not persuaded that the documentary evidence showed that the route was a vehicular highway, he had to consider whether there had been a use by the public as of right and without interruption for a period of twenty years before its status was brought into question.
“The inspector held a public enquiry in December 2012. He concluded that the county council had not established to the required standard, namely the balance of probabilities, that the route was a vehicular highway.
“He decided that it should be designated as a bridleway. Objections were raised to the conclusion that it should be designated as a bridleway and so the inspector held a second inquiry in March 2014. His original decision was regarded as an interim decision. Following the second inquiry, he maintained his interim decision.”
He concluded: “None of the specific matters raised persuade me that the inspector’s decision is flawed.”