Take back the tracks
Lake District Green Lanes Alliance
Beatrix Potter: environmental campaigner, eco-warrior and trailblazing feminist. A new biography by Nadia Cohen describes how she protected the landscape she loved against the onslaught of motor vehicles.
Beatrix Potter would have been appalled to witness 4WDs and motorbikes driving across her land and through her farms. Read Nadia Cohen's thoughts here
The Judicial Review brought by the Green Lanes Environmental Action Movement (GLEAM) against the Lake District National Park Authority was heard on 2nd and 3rd June at the Administrative Court in Manchester. We're now waiting for the judgement.
It’s worth remembering that this hearing could only be about whether the process was lawful, not about the substance of the LDNPA’s decision, so we’ll have to continue our work whatever the ruling is. But there is no doubt that time and the general feeling about the importance of nature are on our side.
Lake District Green Lanes Alliance
The LDGLA is an alliance for all those who want to protect our historic green lanes for farming access and quiet, non-motorised recreation.
We fully support the National Park's statutory purposes of conserving natural beauty and promoting the enjoyment of its special qualities.
Permitting recreational motor vehicles to colonise the landscape ruins the Lake District for everyone in our diverse and multicultural society.
Recently the focus has very much been on the High Tilberthwaite and High Oxenfell tracks. We are grateful to GLEAM (the Green Lanes Environmental Action Movement) for leading the Judicial Review against the Lake District National Park Authority's decision not to consult on Traffic Regulation Orders. Over £60,000 have been raised to fund it - showing the massive support for this cause in the country. We'll keep you updated about progress.
Green Lanes in the Lake District
Green lanes are unsealed tracks, an important part of the Lake District's cultural heritage. They were made for pedestrian and horse-drawn traffic, not for motor vehicles with pneumatic tyres and propelled through their wheels. According to the LDNPA there are 75 green lanes in the Lake District. Of these 16 are classified as red routes, i.e. "priority management routes with significant use requiring significant monitoring/management". The tracks at Little Langdale, High Nibthwaite, Elterwater, Tarn Hows and Stang End and are just some examples.
The Aims of the Lake District Green Lanes Alliance
We are campaigning for the prohibition of recreational motor vehicles on green lanes in the Lake District National Park:
By arguing that recreational activities in the Lake District should be essentially quiet, non-destructive and non-polluting.
By showing that recreational use of green lanes by 4x4s and motor bikes makes routes unpleasant or impossible for non-vehicle users and causes disruption, inconvenience and distress for farmers.
By encouraging the Lake District National Park Authority and Cumbria County Council to use their powers to prohibit recreational motor vehicles through Traffic Regulation Orders (TROs). Programmes for the introduction of such orders should be energetically promoted.
NB: Traffic Regulation Orders make exemptions for farmers and people with disabilities.
The Sandford Principle
We presented our case again at the last full LDNPA meeting of 2019, emphasising that the Sandford Principle (codified in the 1995 Environment Act) clearly states that where there is a conflict between conservation and enjoyment, conservation MUST take precedence.
The LDGLA argue that the current issue is an explicit example of the Sandford Principle being tested for its efficacy. Some 16 years ago, when the 2004 Management Plan was being drawn up, the draft copy of that plan mooted a blanket ban for motorised vehicles on green lanes, unsealed roads and byways. It was withdrawn after an outcry by the motoring organisations.
Yet how much worse is the problem today? These lanes have been the living backbone of Lakeland communities since Viking times and beyond and now the legacy of these historic routes may be lost forever.The sale of recreational 4x4s across the UK is rising (37 to 1 compared to the sale of electric vehicles) despite the global need to radically reduce carbon emissions. This problem will undoubtedly escalate in the coming years.
Our National Parks, these hard-won spaces of peaceful freedom and quiet enjoyment truly deserve our protection.
For more information on Green Lanes and the law visit the GLEAM website.
AMBLESIDE ACTION FOR A FUTURE is a network of local residents working together to mitigate climate and environmental breakdown and build community resilience.